It looks like the United States is taking another step towards distancing itself from the United Nations.
On October 12, the State Department announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In a press release, they cited “U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”
The State Department’s announcement also indicates that the United States wishes to remain engaged with the international organization, but as a “non-member observer state” which would allow us to contribute our opinions and perspectives on the issues affecting the world. While being a non-member would enable us to participate in discussions, it would mean that we are unable to vote on actions taken by the organization. The withdrawal will take place at the end of next year.
While being a non-member would enable us to participate in discussions, it would mean that we are unable to vote on actions taken by the organization. The withdrawal will take place at the end of next year.
Reasons For The UNESCO Withdrawal
One of the most important reasons why the United States is withdrawing from UNESCO is its anti-Israel bias. Like other factions of the United Nations, UNESCO has mistreated the Jewish state. One of its functions is to preserve culture and history, but they have worked to erase the Jewish connection to the land of Israel.
Recently, UNESCO designated the ancient city of Hebron, which is located in the West Bank, as a Palestinian World Heritage site; it has also identified sites like the Western Wall by their Islamic names. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley had some strong words for the organization. She criticized UNESCO for their “extreme politicization,” stating that it “has become a chronic embarrassment.”
Another reason the U.S. is withdrawing from UNESCO is because of their decision to allow Syria to remain a part of its human rights committee despite the numerous atrocities Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has committed against his people. For decades, the U.N. has allowed nations that are notorious for their human rights abuses to influence the organization.
Lastly, pulling out of UNESCO will stop the accumulation of arrears that the United States owes to the organization since it stopped funding the group in 2011. We ceased funding the organization because they admitted Palestine as a full member.
Should The U.S. Withdraw From UNESCO?
This wasn’t the first time we have withdrawn from UNESCO. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan pulled out of the organization because of its pro-Soviet Union bias. President George W. Bush rejoined in 2002.
UNESCO is not the only part of the United Nations that acts in ways that contradict their stated purpose. As a whole, the U.N. has allowed governments that routinely violate human rights to vote on their resolutions. Countries such as these should not have a place in an organization that purports to protect human rights worldwide.
Additionally, the United Nations has routinely passed resolutions against Israel while all but ignoring countries that commit war crimes and oppress their citizens. We should not support an organization that continually works against our interests, and we cannot afford to be entangled with a group that does not share our values — it would only be counterproductive.
One might argue that we should remain a part of international organizations like UNESCO because it is our only chance for affecting change. However, we have already tried to bring about change in the group since we rejoined in 2002 — it hasn’t done much good, has it? Perhaps putting some distance between ourselves and UNESCO might send a message that will motivate its leaders to reconsider their approach to the rest of the world.
What do you think? Should the United States withdraw from UNESCO? Let us know in the comments below!