United States pulls out of UNESCO

Oct 13, 2017, 00:31
United States pulls out of UNESCO

"This decision was not taken lightly", according to a State Department statement on Thursday.

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 USA "brave and moral". It will take effect at the end of 2018.

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The withdrawals are a severe blow for the Paris-based organisation which began work in 1946 and is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and Sceilig Mhichíl in Co Kerry.

Phạm Sanh Châu, Vietnamese candidate for the director-general position of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), chose to withdraw his name prior to the third round of voting on Wednesday.

UNESCO's executive board plans to select her successor Friday in a secret ballot.

The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes. Various efforts by President Barack Obama to overturn the legal restriction narrowly failed in Congress, and the United States lost its vote at the organization after two years of nonpayment, in 2013.

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.

"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen global peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she said in a statement. "It's very weird that it's today", she said.

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France's Audrey Azoulay and Egypt's Moushira Khattab were tied in second.

Bokova recalled that in 2011, when the U.S. suspended payment of its membership contributions, she was convinced that the UNESCO never mattered as much for the United States or vice versa. "Together, we have worked to protect humanity's shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy".

The United States and Israel announced on Thursday they were quitting the U.N.'s cultural agency UNESCO, after Washington accused it of anti-Israeli bias. In the US, listed sites include the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall, as well as national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite.

And past year, Israel suspended cooperation with it after the agency adopted a controversial resolution which made no reference to Jewish ties to a key holy site in Jerusalem. This is a loss to the United Nations family.

United States pulls out of the UN's culture and education body.

Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, has repeatedly criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S. decision as "brave and moral" in a statement.

In October, Israel suspended its co-operation over a draft resolution referring to the Old City of Jerusalem as part of "the cultural heritage of Palestine". It was submitted by the Palestinians and was supported by 24 countries, with six opposing it and 26 abstaining. The site is regarded as sacred by Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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