America has decided to withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations programme responsible for corralling international cooperation on issues such as science and education and designating world heritage sites. The State Department said the decision reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco. The withdrawal will take effect Dec. 31, 2018.


1984: The Reagan Administration decides to withdraw from the organization at the height of the Cold War, citing corruption and what it considered an ideological tilt towards the Soviet Union against the West.

2002: President George W. Bush rejoins the organization , claiming it has gotten its books in order and expunged some of its most virulent anti-Western and anti-Israel biases.

2011:  The Obama administration cut off  more than $ 80 million a year about 22 percent of the U.N. cultural agency, after its member countries defied an American warning and approved a Palestinian bid for full membership in the body.

Despite the funding cut, the United States remained a member of UNESCO, and even had a vote on the executive board, which selects the Director General. The United States continued to be charged tens of millions in dues each year and lost its voting rights in UNESCO’s principal decision-making body, which is known as the General Conference.

As a result of U.S. funding cuts, U.S. arrears have been swelling each year, surpassing $550 million that’s owed to UNESCO.


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