By Isaac Kitty:
The United States has stated it will pull out of UN’s culture and education body (Unesco) citing accusations of anti-Israel bias in a move that was critised by the head of the Paris-based organization.
After years of tension in the United Nations Environmental Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) it is now in the process of electing a new director-general, Department of US state spokesperson Hearth Nauert publicized that Washington is planning to withdraw.
In a statement, Nauert said “this decision was not taken lightly and it reflects US concerns with arrears at the unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organization and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” the United states is one of the body’s pioneering members and it had withdrawn under the leadership of president Ronald Reagan who quit in 1984 over misappropriation of funds and anti-US bias in some of the body’s policies.
In 2002, president George Walker Bush announced America’s entry back into the organization but its relations with UNESCO collapsed once more in 2011 when US ceased funding the organization after it members voted to admit Palestine as a full member.
America is opposed to any move by United Nations bodies to acknowledge Palestinians as a state as it believes this must wait a negotiated Middle East peace deal. However, President Trump’s administration is reviewing many of its multilateral commitments to purse what it calls Americas First Policy.
Unesco’s head Irina Bovoko said that it was a profound regret upon the decision US took, calling it a loss to multilateralism. “at the time when conflicts tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the US to withdraw from the United Nations agency meant to promote education for peace and protection of culture under attack,” she said.
Bokova said despite US withholding of funding since 2011, they have increased the partnership between the United States and UNESCO which has never been so meaningful. UNESCO is known for producing world heritage sites that include the Grand Canyon and other US attractions, but it has been a scene of diplomat conflicts in recent years after Arab countries succeed in passing aa number of resolutions biting Israel.
The agency’s board members are set to vote this week to elect a new director general with candidates from Qatar, France and Egypt in tri-way race for the post.