Washington, D.C., USA: In a statement, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said today, thursday, that the US would be pulling out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) by the end of the year 2018, accusing it of “anti-Israel” bias.
Nauert said, “This decision was not taken lightly and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”
The State Department said it plans to “remain engaged” with the organisation as a non-member.
The Department said it would establish an observer mission at the Paris-based organisation to replace its representation.
UNESCO said the withdrawal was a loss to the “UN family” and to multilateralism.
The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.
This isn’t the first time the US has pulled out of UNESCO. Former President Ronald Reagan withdrew the US from the organisation in 1984, and former President George W. Bush rejoined the cultural group in 2002.
Under President Reagan, The United States formally announced on December 29th 1983,that it intended to withdraw from Unesco in a year’s time (December 31, 1984). But at the same time, it said that it would strengthen its participation in the United Nations and other international agencies. The decision to withdraw from Unesco, Gregory J. Newell, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Reagan, said at a news conference, was made only after UNESCO refused to adjust its policies to meet American and other Western complaints.
The circumstances of the exit under Reagan versus under Trump are clearly different.
Gregory J. Newell, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations under President Reagan gave these examples of American concerns:
The time and resources earmarked for projects that the United States does not believe should be dealt with by Unesco, such as spending $750,000 in discussing Soviet-inspired disarmament proposals.
The ”collectivist” trends in the group, which, Mr. Newell said, promotes ”group rights” at the expense of individual human rights.
Efforts to promote the licensing of foreign reporters and the setting up of a ”new world information order.”
What he said was the excessive attention given the so-called New International Economic Order, in which wealthy countries are supposed to tranfer resources to the poorer ones.
Unesco’s request for a budget increase of nearly 10 percent while other United Nations agencies were abiding by requests to keep their budgets at near zero growth, The budget for Unesco is about $200 million yearly, with the United States contributing a fourth.
Mr. Gregory J. Newel said that in addition to Unesco, the United States had specific problems with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labor Organization, the United Nations environmental program and the International Telecommunications Union. But he said the agencies had altered their policies, some of them political, and others budgetary, to Washington’s satisfaction.