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U.S. pulls out of United Nations cultural organisation

13 October, 2017, 00:31 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
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"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the decision would take effect on December 31, 2018.

The UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák is also "concerned that the decision by the United States to withdraw could have adverse impacts upon the important work of UNESCO", according to a statement from his spokesperson.

Following years of tension at UNESCO, which is in the process of electing a new director-general, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced that Washington planned to withdraw.

Israel has also announced today that they will be quitting the United Nations agency, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision by the U.S. "brave and moral".

The Tomb of the Patriarchs, along with the Hebron's Old City, were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.

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

And in 2015, Unesco adopted a resolution that criticized Israel for mishandling heritage sites in Jerusalem and condemned "Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against freedom of worship".




At the time, Netanyahu said the "absurd" vote denied the Jewish connection to the city.

"The US relationship with Unesco is a matter for them".

President George W. Bush announced America's return in 2002, but relations soured again in 2011 when Barack Obama pulled the plug on funding to the body after its members voted to admit Palestine as a full member.

Ms. Bokova, in a telephone interview, said she "thought the decision was coming but why now, I don't know, in the midst of elections" for a new director to replace her.

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says the "extreme politicization" of UNESCO - the U.N.'s cultural, education and scientific agency - has become "a chronic embarrassment". Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley has repeatedly denounced these actions, and said the US was "evaluating" whether or not it should continue as a member of the organization. "Partnership between UNESCO and the United States was so deep and strong because it was based on shared values", she said.

America has chose to withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations programme responsible for corralling worldwide cooperation on issues such as science and education and designating world heritage sites. Under the Reagan Administration, the U.S. quit UNESCO in 1984, at the time accusing the agency of a pro- Soviet Union bias.

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