The United States announced its withdrawal from UNESCO

  • The United States on October 12 announced its withdrawal from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), accusing it of “continuing anti-Israel bias”. 
  • UNESCO is the first UN agency that has admitted Palestine as a full member, in 2011. 
  • As required by law, the US has stopped funding the UNESCO since then. 
  • The U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018 and until then it will remain a full member of the body. 
  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on the morning of October 12 of the U.S decision.
  • US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. would seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO. 
  • This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, 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 US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organisation, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.
  • US laws bar funding to any U.N. agency that recognises the Palestinian state. 
  • The US had earlier once withdrawn from the UNESCO, in 1984, under President Ronald Regan who accused it of favouring the Soviet Union. 
  • Under President George W. Bush, Washington rejoined the organisation in 2002.
  • Israel and UNESCO have a contentions relationship, and Israel recalled its ambassador to UNESCO in 2016, accusing it of ignoring Jewish views of the heritage of the region.

Source:The Guardian

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