US and Israel formally withdraw from UNESCO

The United States of America and its staunch Middle-eastern ally Israel have finally called it quits to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation or UNESCO as the clocks around the world had struck midnight. This marked the formal completion of a project which had started off a year ago. UNESCO which had been co-founded by the United States in 1945 along with representatives of 44 other countries primarily to create world peace. It was the result of an initiative of CAME or the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education that had gathered while World War II was going on for reconstruction of their education systems after peace.

The official notice of withdrawal had been given by the Trump administration in October 2017. It was soon followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel had held the agency responsible for having an apparent anti-Israel bias. The organisation had slammed Israel for its occupation of East Jerusalem. Additionally, it had also given complete membership to Palestine in 2011.

The US had asked for basic reform in the organisation previously. The withdrawal has a significant impact on the agency although it will not have any financial repercussions. It is mainly because both United States and Israel had completely stopped paying their dues to the organisation after it had voted Palestine to be a member-state.

The United States had comprised around 22 per cent of the total budget of the organisation and had thus accumulated $600m in unpaid dues. This is also seen as a cause of withdrawal of the Trump administration from the agency. Likewise, Israel has accrued an amount of $10m as dues against the agency. The State Department of US has reportedly told the UNESCO that the US will stay as an ‘observer state’ in a non-member capacity.

Even the Reagan administration had pulled out of UNESCO in 1984 as it found the agency as highly unmanaged and corrupt. The US had again joined the same in 2003.

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