Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

USA pulls out of United Nations cultural organisation

USA pulls out of United Nations cultural organisation

The U.S.is preparing to leave the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in December, according to a new report.

Nauert said the state department had notified Bokova of their decision earlier on Thursday.

A press statement from the State Department says the decision was also based on "the need for fundamental reform in the organization" as well as stacking up bills the USA owes UNESCO.

Hegadorn said the US would remain a force at the cultural agency in the same way as it was from 1984, when the country withdrew under then-President Ronald Reagan. The withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018.

UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other U.S. attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO's outgoing director-general, said she "deeply regrets" the decision and is convinced that "UNESC has never been so important for the USA, or the United States for UNESCO" given the rise of what she called violent extremism and terrorism in the world.

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"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen worldwide peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she added, noting that UNESCO would continue to build a more just, peaceful, equitable 21st century.

That year the U.S. stopped paying into UNESCO but did not officially withdraw. With no funds forthcoming, the USA lost its vote in the agency in 2013.

She said: "The United States will continue to evaluate all agencies within the United Nations system through the same lens".

As a permanent observer to the organization, the United States would still be able to voice its opinion about matters to the body, but not vote on issues as a member. "It's very, very regrettable". Unesco's largest literacy program is in Afghanistan, she said, and Unesco is also working in Libya and Iraq to train teachers and preserve cultural heritage in liberated areas.

Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organization was a significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies.

The Israel controversy re-ignited this summer after UNESCO named Hebron's city center a Palestinian World Heritage Site.

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The text denounced "all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem".

The Trump administration has made the defense of Israel on the global stage a key tenet of its foreign policy.

Many saw the vote to include Palestine as evidence of long-running, ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. Mr. Trump has pledged to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and selected a pro-settlement ambassador.

She traced the decades-long U.S. ties with Unesco, and noted that the Statue of Liberty is among the many World Heritage sites protected by the United Nations agency.

For President Trump and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the recognition of world heritage sites in the Palestinian territories, like Hebron and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the 2015 resolution and another in 2016, showed an anti-Israel bias.

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