UNESCO: What is going to happen after December 2018?

The withdrawal of the United States, which has not paid its contributions to the agency since the acceptance of Palestine, will take effect next year

UNESCO: What is going to happen after December 2018?

Leer en Español: UNESCO: ¿Qué va a pasar después de diciembre de 2018?

In a statement issued by the United State State Department, it is noted that the government of Donald Trump makes the decision to withdraw from the UNESCO because it understands that the agency needs "fundamental reforms" and that it also has "a bias against Israel". The declaration also assured that the North American country is willing to continue its job as an observer in order to “contribute with looks, perspectives, and experience" in the issues it addresses and not to move away from the organization in an drastic manner.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the State Department has already notified Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, of the decision. "This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects the concerns of the US with the increase in arrears in the Organization", said Nauert in a press conference. Nauert stated that the time period in which the international superpower as decided to leave was also carefully thought through in order to make everything more effective.

Bokova, on her part, stated that she "deeply regretted" the decision of the United States. "Universality is essential for UNESCO's mission to build international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, with the defense of human rights and human dignity", said the Director-General.

The decision to leave the organization seems to have been taken by President Donald Trump himself, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who supported the option, always argued that such a decision would have to be taken later after the election of the new Director-General. In fact, this week UNESCO is deciding who will replace Bokova. There are two potential candidates: former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay and former Qatari Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari.

This is not the first time the United States has left UNESCO. In 1984, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the country left the organization accusing it of "virtually politicizing each and every subject under its jurisdiction, showing hostility toward the basic institutions of a free society, especially the free market and freedom of the press, and showing an unbounded budget expansion”.

On that occasion, the United Kingdom under the direction of Margaret Thatcher opted to accompany the United States. Only until 1997, the British returned to the organization and not until 2002 the American country did the same under the presidency of George W. Bush.

With this decision, under the argument of favoritism towards Palestine, it is clear the role of the Mediterranean country within the foreign policy of the United States.

For Russia, the decision taken by the United States was described as "sad", as mentioned by Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. However, an official of the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "UNESCO is not losing anything" with the departure of the American power.


Latin American Post | Carlos Eduardo Gómez Avella

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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