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Middle East

UNESCO says programs will suffer greatly from US cuts

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2011-11-03

UNESCO said Wednesday that the US decision to cut UNESCO funding would seriously harm key projects. The US, which supplies 22% of the cultural agency's funding, objected to UNESCO's decision to accept the Palestinian bid for membership.

REUTERS - The cut in U.S. funding of UNESCO following its granting of full membership to Palestinians would compromise programmes including Holocaust education and a tsunami warning system, the head of the U.N. cultural agency said on Wednesday.

The United States said on Monday it would not transfer a planned $60 million in funds in protest over the vote by member states of UNESCO to admit the Palestinians.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called the United States, which supplies 22 percent of its funding, a “critical partner” in the work of the agency, which promotes global education and press freedom among other tasks.

“The announced withholding of U.S. dues owed for 2011 will immediately affect our ability to deliver programmes in critical areas: achieving universal education, supporting new democracies and fighting extremism,” wrote Bokova in a statement.

Saying UNESCO’s work was in America’s “core interests” Bokova said U.S. funding helped the agency develop a free press in north African countries like Tunisia and Egypt, undertake Holocaust education and expand a tsunami warning system.

UNESCO “hopes that a resolution to the funding issue will ultimately be identified”, wrote Bokova. “Until that happens, it will be impossible for us to maintain our current level of activity.”

The United States called Palestinian membership of UNESCO “regrettable” and “premature”, casting it as an attempt to bypass the two-decade-old peace process.

The U.S. State Department said it had to halt its funding due to laws prohibiting funding any U.N. organisation that grants full membership to any group that does not have “internationally recognized attributes” of statehood.

As part of long-running efforts to gain global recognition as an independent state, Palestinian officials had gone to UNESCO after first making a bid for recognition in September in front of the U.N. Security Council.

That bid has been moved to a committee where it will likely confront a veto from the United States.

Date created : 2011-11-02

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