Shock as the United States withdraws from UNESCO

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UNESCO headquarters in Paris. PHOTO/UNESCO

By PATRICK MAYOYO

The United States has officially withdrawn from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

UNESCO’s declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

It is the successor of the League of NationsInternational Committee on Intellectual Cooperation and is a specialized agency of united Nations based in Paris.

A statement from the US Department of State said they had notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” the statement said.

It said that pursuant to Article II(6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time.

“The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education,” the statement added.

UNESCO is the organization that is responsible for protecting the cultural and natural heritage of the world and places it considers too valuable to sacrifice for the sake of profit.

The decision by US to withdraw from UNESCO has baffled many as it comes after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change in June — a move that removed the U.S. from efforts to combat global warming and participate in an international conversation on climate change.

President Trump recently signed an executive order addressing the nation’s infrastructure, which eliminated a part of an order from former President Barack Obama that required the federal government to take climate change and a rising sea-level into account when building.

Just before the Hurricane Irma emerged, the Trump administration chose to disband a federal advisory panel aimed at guiding public and private-sector officials in understanding the findings of the government’s reports on the climate.

The 15-person Advisory Committee for Sustained National Climate Assessment, which is comprised of academics, industry, government and local officials, was established in 2015 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The charter for the group expired on August 20, 2017, and NOAA’s acting administer told the committee’s chair that the panel would not be renewed, the Washington Post reported.

Since the Global Change Research Act of 1990 was established, the U.S. Global Change Research Program is tasked with creating a National Climate Assessment every four years. The next report is slated to come out in 2018.

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