12.10.2017

United States leaves UNESCO citing anti-Israel bias

400UNESCO, the cultural and educational agency of the United Nations, expressed regret on Thursday over the United States’ official decision to leave its organization.

Director-general Irina Bokova said in a statement that the departure is a loss for "the United Nations family" and for multilateralism. She said the U.S. and UNESCO matter to each other more than ever now because "the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security."

A native of Bulgaria, Bokova defended UNESCO's reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism. She traced the decades-long U.S. ties with UNESCO, and noted that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the U.N. agency.

While the United States withdrew from the group, the Trump administration said it wanted to continue to be engaged with Unesco to provide American perspective and expertise, but as a nonmember observer. The United States withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018.

The Obama administration cut off funding to Unesco in 2011 because the group admitted Palestinians as full members, which the United States saw as undercutting its influence in countries around the world. America lost its vote in the organization in 2013 because it ended its financial contributions.


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