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US returns to UNESCO after over 4-year absence

June 30, 2023 at 7:48 pm

This photograph shows the logo of UNESCO during the 75th anniversary celebrations of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 12 November 2021. [JULIEN DE ROSA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The US rejoined UNESCO on Friday, after withdrawing in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Trump administration, after accusing of harbouring anti-Israel bias, withdrew from the UN’s specialised agency aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture.

UNESCO member states overwhelmingly approved the return of the US after a long absence, in a vote at an extraordinary session of the General Conference that began on Thursday.

According to a statement on the UN body’s official website, 132 member states voted in favour of the US rejoining the organisation, while 10 voted against it.

After UNESCO voted to admit Palestine as a member state in 2011, both the US and Israel stopped making financial contributions to the organisation.

Trump announced in 2017 that the US, along with Israel, would withdraw from UNESCO, citing the organisation’s alleged bias against Tel Aviv. The decision officially took effect in December 2018.

On Thursday, UNESCO’s 193 member states convened for an extraordinary session of the General Conference to consider the US proposal.

“With this return, UNESCO will be in an even stronger position to carry out its mandate,” UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, said.

As part of its compensation, the US will contribute funding equal to 22 per cent of UNESCO’s regular budget.​

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