The government of the United States of America on Thursday announced its decision to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Heather Nauert, U.S. spokesperson disclosed this in a notice to UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO.
This decision according to the statement made available to NEWSVERGE was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO. Nauert, stressed that the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.
“The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.
“Pursuant to Article II(6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time.” Said Heather Nauert.
UNESCO was established after World War II to help promote global cooperation around the flow of ideas, culture and information. UNESCO’s mission includes programs to improve access to education, preserve cultural heritage, improve gender equality and promote scientific advances and freedom of expression.
It is perhaps best known for the World Heritage program, which helps maintain cultural sites of import around the globe.
But the United States has at times had an ambivalent relationship with the Paris-based organization. The United States withdrew from UNESCO in 1984 under the Reagan Administration, critical of what it believed was a pro-Soviet Union bias.
It eventually rejoined in 2002 as an effort of the George W. Bush administration to emphasize a message of international cooperation. “America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights, tolerance and learning,” Bush said at the time.
It is also worthy of note that the United States stopped paying its dues in 2011 after UNESCO voted to include the Palestinian Authority as a member, citing a 1990s-era law that prohibits funding for U.N. groups that recognize Palestinian territories. Israel recalled its ambassador to the organization last year after some governments in the organization supported a resolution which denounced Israel’s policies on religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.