United States withdrawal from UNESCO 'loss for multilateralism,' says cultural agency's chief

United States withdrawal from UNESCO 'loss for multilateralism,' says cultural agency's chief

Nauert also clarified that, in accordance with the charter of UNESCO, the decision on "the U.S. withdrawal will enter into force on December 31, 2018".

The State Department said the decision "reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco".

The U.S.is preparing to leave the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in December, according to a new report.

The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has already expressed regret over Washington's step.

The US has a long history of contradictions with UNESCO, an worldwide body that is aimed at promoting a respect for the rule of law and human rights through cultural and scientific collaboration.

Chris Hegadorn, the U.S. Charge d'Affaires and ranking U.S. representative to UNESCO, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the decision to pull out was linked to "the unfortunate politicization of the mandate of UNESCO, where anti-Israel bias has been a major factor and something the U.S. has been struggling to address".

Washington has already withheld its funding for UNESCO since 2011, when the body admitted Palestine as a full member. It is perhaps best known for the World Heritage program, which helps preserve cultural sites of import around the globe.

Hours after the USA announced its withdrawal, the Israel joined in, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he had instructed his foreign ministry to begin preparations to leave. "It's not just about money, it's promoting ideals that are vital to countries like the United States, such as education and culture", a UNESCO-based diplomat said.

Hamas, Fatah sign deal on Palestinian reconciliation
He added that all Palestinian factions would begin wider negotiations on the formation of a national unity government in the coming two weeks.

Ms. Bokova, in a telephone interview, said she "thought the decision was coming but why now, I don't know, in the midst of elections" for a new director to replace her.

It's worth noting that when the US withdraws from UNESCO, as pledged, it will not be for the first time. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes, global science programmes, the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press, regional and cultural history projects, the promotion of cultural diversity, translations of world literature, global cooperation agreements on secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. Israel has accused UNESCO of making a politically motivated move, part of what it says is an attempt to deny the Jewish character and heritage of certain key sites in the Holy Land.

An Arab-backed UNESCO resolution previous year condemned Israeli's policies at religious sites in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Analysts said that actually withdrawing from the organization was a significant escalation by the United States in its criticism of United Nations bodies.

Israel, however, remains a member state.

Its head, Irina Bokova, earlier called the United States withdrawal a matter of "profound regret".

An American flag flies outside the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, October 12, 2017.

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