Wednesday, October 18th, 2017
  
 

US withdraws from UNESCO, citing its ‘anti-Israel bias’

The Trump administration announced on Friday that it would withdraw from UNESCO, the UN cultural organisation, after years of the US distancing itself because of what it called the group’s “anti-Israel bias.”

“This decision was not taken lightly,” according to a State Department statement issued on Friday. In addition to anti-Israel bias, the department cited “the need for fundamental reform” and “mounting arrears” at the organisation.



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Australia humiliated by UNESCO (Video Thumbnail)

Australia humiliated by UNESCO

Australia humiliated by UNESCO

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Lawyers wrap up evidence in dual …

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Defence hack a warning: Pyne

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Julie Bishop and the monkey men

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Government says cyber crime is ‘booming’

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Tony Abbott’s record on climate change

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Commission warns GST dividing system …

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Australia humiliated by UNESCO

UNESCO’s world heritage committee has rejected the government planned ‘vandalism’ in Tasmania’s forests, according to Greens leader Christine Milne.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation known for its designation of world heritage sites, is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.

While the US withdrew from the group, President Donald Trump’s administration said it wanted to continue providing US perspective and expertise to UNESCO, but as a non-member observer. The withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director-general, expressed regret at the US withdrawal and said American people shared the ...

Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general, expressed regret at the US withdrawal and said American people shared the organisation’s goals.

NO ARCHIVE

DATE IMPORTED:13 July, 2016United Nations cultural organization UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria speaks during a debate in the United Nations General Assembly between candidates vying to be the next U.N. Secretary General at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike SegarSELECT USAGEUSAGE AGREEMENT
SYSTEM ID:RTSHN99IMAGE ID:S1AETPGDKJAASIZE:5184PX X 3456PXFILE SIZE:51MB ImageCITY:
New York
COUNTRY:
UNITED STATES
KEYWORDS:
NY
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Mike Segar Photo: Reuters

In a written statement, Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s director-general, expressed regret at the US withdrawal and said that the American people shared the organisation’s goals.

“Universality is critical to UNESCO’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity,” she wrote.

The Obama administration ended funding to UNESCO in 2011 when the group admitted Palestinians as full members, after legislation from 1990 and 1994 that mandates such a cutoff to any UN agency that gives full membership to Palestinians. The US lost its vote in the organisation in 2013 because it ended its financial contributions.

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Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organisation was a significant escalation by the US in its criticism of UN bodies.

UNESCO designates world heritage sites such as the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley Region of Northwest Australia.

UNESCO designates world heritage sites such as the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley Region of Northwest Australia. Photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins

“This is another example of the Trump’s administration’s profound ambivalence and concern about the way the UN is structured and behaves, and it shows the administration’s determination to separate itself from its predecessors,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator and adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations.

In July, UNESCO declared the ancient and hotly contested core of Hebron, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as a Palestinian World Heritage site in danger, a decision sharply criticised by Israel and its allies. And in 2015, UNESCO adopted a resolution that criticised Israel for mishandling heritage sites in Jerusalem and condemned “Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against freedom of worship”.

Donald and Melania Trump, next to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on tour in Israel, has made the defence of Israel on the ...

Donald and Melania Trump, next to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on tour in Israel, has made the defence of Israel on the global stage a key tenet of its foreign policy.  Photo: AP

The Trump administration has made the defence of Israel on the global stage a key tenet of its foreign policy. After he was elected but before he became president, Trump made an extraordinary intervention on the world stage by criticising the Obama administration’s decision not to block a UN resolution criticising Israeli settlements. Trump has pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and selected a pro-settlement ambassador.

Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador, has repeatedly criticised the UN for what she called its anti-Israel bias.

New York Times