U.S. to pull out of UNESCO amid Pales­tinian ten­sions

Truro Daily News - - WORLD -

The United States is pulling out of UNESCO be­cause of what Washington sees as its anti-Is­rael bias and a need for “fun­da­men­tal re­form” of the UN cul­tural agency.

While the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had been pre­par­ing for a likely with­drawal for months, the an­nounce­ment by the State De­part­ment on Thursday rocked UNESCO’s Paris head­quar­ters, where a heated elec­tion to choose a new di­rec­tor is un­der way.

The out­go­ing UNESCO chief ex­pressed her “pro­found re­gret” at the de­ci­sion and tried to de­fend the rep­u­ta­tion of the UN Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion, best known for its World Her­itage pro­gram to pro­tect cul­tural sites and tra­di­tions.

The U.S. stopped fund­ing UNESCO af­ter it voted to in­clude Pales­tine as a mem­ber in 2011, but the State De­part­ment has main­tained a UNESCO of­fice and sought to weigh on pol­icy be­hind the scenes. The U.S. now owes about US$550 mil­lion in back pay­ments.

In a state­ment, the State De­part­ment said the de­ci­sion will take ef­fect Dec. 31, 2018, and that the U.S. will seek a “per­ma­nent observer” sta­tus in­stead. It cited U.S. be­lief in “the need for fun­da­men­tal re­form in the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

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