Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

The United States Now Plans to Leave UNESCO

The United States Now Plans to Leave UNESCO

The US has a long history of contradictions with UNESCO, an global body that is aimed at promoting a respect for the rule of law and human rights through cultural and scientific collaboration.

Heather Nauert, US state department spokesperson, said on Thursday the US would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.

The State Department notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the decision Thursday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave formal notification of the U.S. withdrawal on the grounds of "continuing anti-Israel bias" and "mounting arrears".

Tensions have flared again in recent years: in 2011, the United States stopped funding the agency after UNESCO voted to admit the Palestinian Authority as a full member; two years later, the USA lost its vote due to these financial cuts.

"The goal of UNESCO is a good one", US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in a statement.

"At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues", she stated.

Nauert also clarified that, in accordance with the charter of UNESCO, the decision on "the U.S. withdrawal will enter into force on December 31, 2018".

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The Trump administration has been preparing for a likely withdrawal for months, and a decision was expected before the end of the year, according to United States officials.

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

US officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision and it was not discussed with other countries.

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".

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.

Trump pulled United States out of UNESCO. It extended membership to Palestine in 2011.

In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when its members declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site - described as "another delusional decision" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The agency also works to improve education for girls in desperately poor countries and in scientific fields, to promote better understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust and to defend media freedom, among other activities.

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