The United States is to withdraw from UNESCO, the cultural and heritage preservation society, at the end of 2018.
The US’s perceived bias of the society against Israel, plus UNESCO’s ‘arrears’, have been quoted as reasons for the move, which has angered many at the organization.
According to UNESCO, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (whom, incidentally, recently referred to US President Donald Trump as a ‘moron’, sparking an internal diplomatic row at the White House) has formally notified the society about the decision.
UNESCO is currently engaged in balloting to replace its outgoing general director, Irina Bokova. Two internal candidates have emerged, a Qatari man called Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari, a French woman, and an Egyptian man. Both US and Israel are displeased about the candidacy, as they would prefer someone from a more US-friendly nationality.
The US had withdrawn from UNESCO once before, under Ronald Reagan’s administration. It later re-joined during George W. Bush’s presidency.
The US provides about a fifth of the organisation’s budget.
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