Following repeated calls for reform and anti-Israel bias in UNESCO, the United States (U.S.) says it will withdraw from the organisation at the end of 2018.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement on Thursday.
“On Oct. 12, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organisation…
“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” Nauert said.
The spokesperson added that the decision would take effect on Dec. 31, 2018.
The United States will remain a full member of the organization until its withdrawal comes into force, she added.
Nauert said the United States informed Bokova of its desire to remain engaged with the organisation in order to share U.S. perspectives and expertise on issues such as world heritage, press freedom, education and scientific collaboration.
Nauert said the U.S. will seek to establish a permanent observer mission to the United Nations cultural body.
Washington has not paid its dues in the organisation since 2011 to protest against the body’s decision to grant full membership to Palestine.
Prior to its protest, the United States contributed around $80 million annually to the Paris-based UN organisation, which accounted for about 22 per cent of UNESCO’s budget.
Former President Ronald Reagan pulled the United States out of UNESCO in 1983, but the country rejoined the organisation in 2003 under President George W. Bush.