Here's what UNESCO is - and why the Trump administration just quit it

Posted October 15, 2017

Trump's withdrawal from UNESCO may deal another blow to America's soft-power influence - something a president who loves "his generals" and chooses his top diplomat based on height never really a fan of, anyway - but the U.S.'s practical role in the organization has been hamstrung for the past few years.

After the United States informed UNESCO on Thursday about its withdrawal on December 31, 2018, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said it would be a loss to the United Nations and "a loss to multilateralism".

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", the State Department said in a statement. Since then, U.S.' annual dues have exceeded $500 million. The United States and Israel were among just 14 of 194 members that voted against admitting the Palestinians. He calls UNESCO "an important leader and steadfast partner" in the ongoing struggle to conserve cultural monuments and decries the Trump Administration's decision. The United States only officially rejoined almost two decades later, in 2002, under George W. Bush, who, at the same time, happened to be selling the U.N. on taking action in Iraq.

What does and doesn't matter about the US withdrawal from UNESCO US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. To protest the vote, both Israel and the USA stopped their funding to the organization and in 2014 lost their voting rights.

"Today is a new day at the United Nations, where there is a price to pay for discrimination against Israel", Danon said.

She said that UNESCO needs the leadership of all states "at the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred". But it has kept an office at UNESCO and owes about $550 million in back payments. (The Palestinians have observer status but are not full members in the General Assembly, in large part because the threat of US veto.) UNESCO responded to that USA move by suspending US voting rights in 2013. Today's decision is a turning point for UNESCO.

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The United States has withdrawn from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization. On Thursday he received 22 of the 30 votes needed to replace outgoing director-general Irina Bokova.

Political experts believe that the represents almost a quarter of UNESCO's may change their stance on the Palestine issue, as the United States, one of the world's superpowers, has joined hands with Israel for extending moral support.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly announced that his country will follow Trump's lead and also withdraw.

In July, UNESCO declared the old Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank a World Heritage Site, a move that further irritated Washington.

The organisation has been struggling financially for a while because of the U.S. not paying its membership dues (at approximately US$70 million per year, they represented almost a quarter of UNESCO's operating budget).