In 2011, the U.S. withdrew its funding of UNESCO, the U.N.’s educational, science and cultural organization, for the same reason. Now they are pulling out altogether.
Washington Post (h/t Colin W) UNESCO was notified Thursday morning of the U.S. intention to withdraw at the end of 2018. The State Department said the United States would like to remain involved as a nonmember observer state.
The withdrawal means the U.S. will halt the arrears it has run-up since it stopped funding the organization in 2011 to protest the admission of the Palestinian Authority as a full member. By the end of this calendar year, the unpaid U.S. bill will amount to $550 million. With no sign that U.S. concerns would be addressed, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to pull out.
News: Even as Trump admin threatens to pull out of NAFTA and Iran deal , comes word that US is withdrawing from UNESCO pic.twitter.com/PBv4X7GTzk
— Mary Louise Kelly (@NPRKelly) October 12, 2017
State Department officials said they hope the withdrawal will help push UNESCO to make changes that would satisfy Washington so the U.S. can resume full membership. Though it will not be able to participate in voting, as an observer the U.S. will remain part of discussions on culture, education, science and communication.
“It sends a strong message that we need to see fundamental reform in the organization, and it raises everyone’s awareness about continued anti-Israel bias,” said one official. The withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the last straw was when UNESCO designated the old city of Hebron in
the West Bank Judea-Samaria, with its Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Palestinian World Heritage site.
Calling UNESCO’s politicization a “chronic embarrassment,” Haley added, “Just as we said in 1984 when President Reagan withdrew from UNESCO, U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense.”
Haley said the United States will evaluate all U.N. agencies “through the same lens.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked that “UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd because, instead of preserving history, it distorts it.” The U.S. withdrawal marks yet another decision by the Trump administration to distance itself from some parts of the international community.