USA and Israel say goodbye to UNESCO

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The departure of the United States and Israel from UNESCO became official on January 1, 2019, but who is the most affected?

E.E.U.U and Israel: Farewell to UNESCO

As announced by the United States in October 2017, the country formalized its departure from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). When the announcement was made, a few hours later, Israel also announced that it would not be part of the Organization either. According to EFE, the main reason that led these two countries to make this decision is that UNESCO has an "anti-Israeli" bias.

Leer en español: E.E.U.U e Israel: Adiós a la UNESCO

The conflicts of these two countries with UNESCO date back to 2011, when the organization recognized Palestine as a State. In protest, both the United States and Israel decided not to pay their annual dues, which led to the loss of voting rights, as reported by the Jewish Link.

The same newspaper adds that the relations reached a tensing point when the Palestinian Authority and the Arab states promoted certain resolutions in the Executive Board of the United Nations, which ignored the Jewish ties with the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. In addition, they promoted the approval of texts that rejected Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

After the departure, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dany Danon, said: "UNESCO is an organization that continually rewrites history, even erasing the Jewish connection with Jerusalem". "Israel will not be a member of an organization whose goal is to to act deliberately against us, and that has become a tool manipulated by the enemies of Israel", he concluded.

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Why is Unesco important?

This Organization is responsible for guiding the different peoples in managing their own development through natural resources, but also through cultural values, as reported by the Peruvian Pan American portal.

In addition to the above, one of its main jobs is literacy, understanding the cultural importance of historical monuments, education (where it promotes the construction of schools and cares about the education of girls), promote understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust and defend press freedom, as Telemundo recalls.

Who is the real loser?

For UNESCO, the exit of these two countries does not represent a great economic loss. The foregoing is due to the fact that, as mentioned above, both the United States and Israel do not pay the installments since 2011. For Telemundo, the North American country (which contributed almost 22% of the total budget) owes about $ 600 million of dollars, while it is estimated that Israel owes 10 million dollars.

The fact that the United States leaves, means that it would stop supporting projects such as:

  • The World Heritage Program: which is responsible for the preservation of the most precious and important historical sites.
  • Education for Everyone: where it is ensured that children can read and supports literacy in adulthood.
  • International Hydrological Program: which is dedicated to the investigation of how to maintain drinking water and resource management.
  • Disaster prevention and preparedness: Preparing for devastating natural disasters; among others.

However, for the former Israeli ambassador to UNESCO, Yitzhak Eldan, the one affected is Israel. "The United States may have the" luxury" of being able to remain disconnected, but Israel is too small for that tactic and can not afford to be isolated". "Because of our unique situation (...) we must be present to defend our position," he told The Jerusalem Post.

On the other hand, for Daniel Bar-Eli, who until 2012 was Secretary General of the National Commission of Israel for UNESCO and in dialogue with Haaretz, said that " Israel's decision to leave the organization was based on emotions, not in a clear thought, " . "We have built an important relationship for many years. We sit on various UNESCO committees and influence the debates and resolutions. The themes have been varied: education, marine studies, World Heritage sites, music, linguistic research, "he said.

In addition, he added that, in case of re-integration within the Organization, the country would not have it so easy. Having a limited influence, does not allow them to reincorporate immediately, unlike the United States, a world power.

With all this, it is clear that by renouncing this UN organization, Israel will lose the influence and importance on debates and resolutions that are carried out within UNESCO.


LatinAmerican Post | Laura Viviana Guevara Muñoz

Translated from "E.E.U.U. and Israel: adiós a la UNESCO"