The US Is Leaving UNESCO - Again

UNESCO and Jerusalem

UNESCO and Jerusalem

Trump is not the first US President to withdraw support from UNESCO.

In the run-up to selecting a candidate for the director-general position of UNESCO, most countries will pull out of the race if their candidate fails to secure 10 or more votes in two rounds.

"This is all the more true on Thursday", she continued "when the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security, to counter racism and antisemitism, to fight ignorance and discrimination".

The US stopped paying dues to the global body in late 2011 after the agency voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership and now owes approximately $550 million, a State Department spokesperson said. The U.S. now owes about $550 million in back payments.

Washington's withdrawal is set to take effect on December 21, 2018, when it will establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the agency. It cited USA belief in "the need for fundamental reform in the organization". "This is a courageous and moral decision because Unesco has become the theatre of the absurd and because instead of preserving history it distorts it".

Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.

"The objective of UNESCO is a good one".

USA officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision and it was not discussed with other countries.

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The organisation, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, majority based in Paris, has always been the object of criticism over its use of resources and resolutions that have been perceived by Israel and other countries as biased.

The Associated Press reports the move is based on UNESCO's inherent anti-Israel bias.

The US announced its withdrawal from UNESCO complaining about how it is run and about what Washington described as bias against Israel.

UNESCO chief Bokova defended her agency's reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism — and saying that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations agency.

"The US relationship with Unesco is a matter for them". She called Washington's step a "loss to multilateralism". Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the US was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization. But, in 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan withdrew the country from the organization, citing corruption.

Director-General Irina Bokova expressed disappointment at the USA decision.

It's worth noting that when the USA withdraws from UNESCO, as pledged, it will not be for the first time.

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