UNESCO member countries ready to welcome US back to organisation

UNESCO member countries ready to welcome US back to organisation

The United States is expected to be welcomed back into the United Nations’ cultural agency, almost five years after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the organization due to allegations of anti-Israel bias and mismanagement. The Paris-based agency, established after World War Two to safeguard humanity’s shared cultural heritage, faced upheaval when the US, which contributed a fifth of its funding, pulled out.

In a letter dated June 8, the US State Department expressed its desire to rejoin the organization as a full member in July and outlined its plan to repay $619 million in arrears over several years. The member states will make their decision during an extraordinary session on Thursday and Friday.

The US letter, seen by RushHourDaily, stated, “Since our withdrawal from UNESCO on Dec. 31, 2018, we have noted UNESCO’s efforts to implement key management and administrative reforms, as well as its focus on decreasing politicized debate, especially on Middle East issues.”

UNESCO’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay, has worked to alleviate political tensions and polarization within the organization, improve financial management, and find ways to fill the financial void left by the US’s departure. Azoulay, who personally lobbied US lawmakers for several months, stated, “This comes after a lot of work to persuade, educate, and explain the current realities of UNESCO.”

UNESCO, known as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is renowned for designating and safeguarding archaeological and heritage sites worldwide. While most of its activities are non-controversial, issues such as resolutions regarding the management of religious sites in Jerusalem have been highly contentious. Azoulay stated that these issues are now resolved after achieving consensus between Israeli and Palestinian parties.

Following the US’s withdrawal, Israel also left UNESCO. However, there are currently no negotiations for Israel’s return, according to Azoulay.

The US is prohibited by law from funding UN bodies that have granted full membership to Palestine. However, a waiver from the US Congress, valid until the end of 2025, allowed the US to rejoin UNESCO. As part of its proposed return, the US plans to pay $150 million in 2024, which includes its annual contribution and arrears. Additionally, the US will provide voluntary funding of $10 million, some of which will be allocated to Holocaust education, journalist safety, and the preservation of Ukraine’s cultural heritage.

One of the reasons Congress granted the waiver was to counter China’s increasing influence at UNESCO, where it is one of the largest donors. Azoulay stated that China responded to the potential US return by expressing a desire for constructive engagement and not opposing any state.

In conclusion, the United States is poised to rejoin UNESCO, with member states expected to support its return. The US intends to repay its arrears and resume its role as a full member of the organization. The decision will be made during an extraordinary session, and UNESCO’s director-general has worked to address political tensions and financial challenges while promoting consensus and cooperation among member states.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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