U.S. Announces Withdraw From UNESCO

The United States will withdraw from UNESCO at the end of next year, the State Department said Thursday, to stop accumulating unpaid dues and make a stand on what it said is anti-Israel bias at the U.N.’s educational, science and cultural organization.

In notifying UNESCO of the decision this morning, the State Department said it would like to remain involved as a nonmember observer state. That will allow the United States to engage in debates and activities, though it will lose its right to vote on issues.

Unesco popularly known for its designation of World Heritage sites and biosphere reserves was founded on the broader principles of combating extremism and promoting peace. The organization works on all matters of global development, including gender equality, sex education, clean water, and literacy.

“At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack,” Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova said in a statement. “This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism.”

Cultural organizations in the United States criticized the decision, saying Unesco played a key role in preserving vital cultural heritage worldwide.

“Although Unesco may be an imperfect organization, it has been an important leader and steadfast partner in this crucial work,” said Daniel H. Weiss, the president and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

John Machado