Trump administration announced on Thursday that it will withdraw from Unesco, and called the group “anti-Israel bias”
“We were in arrears to the tune of $550 million or so, and so the question is, do we want to pay that money?” Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Thursday at a news briefing. She added, “With this anti-Israel bias that’s long documented on the part of Unesco, that needs to come to an end.”
Even though the US decided to withdraw from the group, it plans to provide future American perspective and expertise to Unesco, but from an observer, nonmember position. The withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018; however, the decision still has chances of being revisited, according to officials.
Ms. Nauert said that if Unesco returns “to a place where they’re truly promoting culture and education on all of that, perhaps we could take another look at this.”
Unesco’s general director, Irina Bokova, expressed regret regarding the US’ decision and said that the American people truly shared the organization’s goals.
“Universality is critical to Unesco’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity,” she wrote.
Back in 2011, the US stopped sending funds to Unesco. Despite Barack Obama’s effort to overturn the legal restriction, the US lost its vote at the organization after 2 years of nonpayment, in 2013.
The cultural organizations in the US did not agree with the decision, saying that Unesco player a very important 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.