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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

US may have no choice but to cut UNESCO funding

The New York Times reports that under current law, if the 'Palestinian Authority' wins full membership in UNESCO, as seems likely, the United States may have little choice but to cut off funding.
Unesco membership “is in the core security interests of the United States,” the agency’s director general, Irina Bokova, said in an interview here. “I think the United States should take a very careful look at this legislation, in their own interests. I don’t believe it’s in the U.S. interest to disengage from the U.N. system as a whole.”

The irony is that the Obama administration agrees and has been a strong supporter of Ms. Bokova. But lawyers at the State Department see no way around the laws, which date from 1990 and 1994 and provide no possibility of a presidential waiver.


Mrs. Clinton has asked the American special envoy to the Middle East, David M. Hale, to negotiate with the Palestinians and Arab countries to break the impasse. The State Department has said it hoped to press the Palestinians to withdraw their request.

There have been discussions about inviting the Palestinians, longtime nonstate observers at Unesco, to sign three major conventions — including the World Heritage Convention, which could list key sites currently under Israeli control as Palestinian — as a nonstate signatory, the way the European Union has done. Such a move would give the Palestinians some of the advantages they seek in joining Unesco without full membership.

Repeated requests to interview the Palestinian ambassador to Unesco or his deputy were declined. Palestinian officials have previously said they see membership as part of the recognition they seek as a state, which the Palestinian envoy to Unesco, Elias Wadih Sanbar, referred to as “a new era in which Palestine is recognized.”

An Arab ambassador, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was also discussion of approving full membership for the Palestinians but delaying it for six months, although that would not prevent a cutoff of American money. There is also talk that other Arab states could make up the shortfall in the Unesco budget.

But Arab representatives say that it will be very difficult for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to compromise. Any “package deal” short of membership, one of them said, “would look like bribery.”

Unesco has a two-year budget of $643 million for 2010-11 and a projected budget of $653 million for 2012-13. Since the United States normally pays its 22 percent share toward the end of the year, a cutoff could mean no payment for 2011, another $70 million blow to the budget. The result would be immediate cuts in programs and personnel.

Ms. Bokova is hopeful for a resolution, but she said that on a recent visit to Washington she found “skepticism and lack of knowledge” about today’s Unesco.

Likewise, American officials doubt Congress will alter the legislation. Many Republicans, who control the House, are hostile to both the United Nations and the Palestinian statehood bid.
Boo. Hoo. UNESCO has changed since the politicized '80's? Give me a break.

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At 2:29 AM, Blogger Benyaminov Shamil said...

Hello Carl. Look at this news. My homecountry was elected. I hope they do act like civizlize country but again they have a conflict with Armenia. Also Turkey and Azerbaijan are one side. I am not how unbiased they will be.


Azerbaijan was elected on Monday to the UN Security Council for 2012-2013 after Slovenia dropped out of a lengthy race for an East European seat on the 15-nation body.

The voting in the 193-nation UN General Assembly went to 16 ballots before Slovenia, trailing by 39 votes, pulled out. In one further ballot, Azerbaijan, now unopposed, had no difficulty


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