World News

United States to Leave UN Body

United States to Leave UN Body

Nauert said the state department had notified Bokova of their decision earlier on Thursday.

The US claims it's leaving the organization in protest of UNESCO's anti-Israel bias.

It will establish an observer mission at the Paris-based organisation to replace its representation, the state department said.

Under UNESCO rules, the USA withdrawal will become effective as of the end of December 2018.

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UNESCO was once a low-profile United Nations agency best known for producing a list of World Heritage sites such as the Grand Canyon or Cambodia's Angkor Wat, as well as running science, media and cultural programmes internationally.

In a lengthy written statement, Irina Bokova, Unesco's director-general, expressed regret at the American withdrawal and said that the American people shared the organization's goals.

"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen global peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she added, noting that UNESCO would continue to build a more just, peaceful, equitable 21st century. "Until then, the United States will remain a full member of UNESCO", the State Department representative summed up. In 2013, the U.S. lost voting power due to its non-payment.

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Israel accused UNESCO of denying the Jewish link to the Temple Mount, a historic site destroyed in 70 A.D. and is nowadays a Muslim holy site called the Noble Sanctuary.

"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen worldwide peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she said in a statement. "It's very weird that it's today", she said.

The third round saw the breakthrough of French candidate Audrey Azouley, who secured 18 out of 58 votes of the UNESCO Executive Board, sharing top spot with Qatari candidate Hammad bin Al-Kawari.

"UNESCO will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the values we share, for the objectives we hold in common, to strengthen a more effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world", Bokova concluded.

Ms Bokova defended Unesco's reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism. This is a loss to the United Nations family. In the US, listed sites include the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall, as well as national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite.

Mr Netanyahu condemned the agency this year for declaring the old city of Hebron in the West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site.

In October 2016, Israel suspended its ties with UNESCO after the organization voted in favor of a resolution that warns over the escalating violence around the holy site in East Jerusalem, a territory that Israel seized in 1967 and annexed shortly later.


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