US turns back on UNESCO
The United States Secretary of State officially notified UNESCO yesterday of the country’s decision to withdraw from the international organisation. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova expressed her regret in a video statement: "At the time when the fight against violent extremism calls for renewed investment in education, in dialogue among cultures to prevent hatred, it is deeply regrettable that the United States should withdraw from the United Nations agency leading these issues. 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."
Since 2011, the US has withheld funding from UNESCO. Nonetheless, says Bokova, since then the partnership could be deepened. Examples include activities to promote the remembrance of the Holocaust across the world and the fight against antisemitism and genocide; projects to advance literacy and promote sciences for sustainability; and the 2011 launch of the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education. A number of World Heritage sites are in the United States, among others the Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and natural wonders like Yosemite and Yellowstone.
Bokova calls the withdrawal a loss to UNESCO and the United Nations family – as well as a loss for multilateralism.