US lobbies for re-election to UNESCO executive board

2015-10-18 21:30
John Kerry (File: AFP)

John Kerry (File: AFP)

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Paris - The United States should be able to rejoin UNESCO's executive board despite ending financial contributions to the international organisation in 2011, US Secretary of State John Kerry said during a lobbying visit to the group's headquarters on Sunday.

"This is a critical time for UNESCO's mission, a time to build peace in the minds of men and women. This is why the US so greatly values UNESCO as a platform for co-operation," Kerry said in a statement issued by the organisation.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) works to foster international cultural and scientific collaboration, most notably with its designation of World Heritage Sites.

The US stopped financing the UN organisation in 2011 after 107 of its 194 general council members voted to admit Palestine as a full UNESCO member.

The decision to allow Palestinian membership was denounced at the time by Victoria Nuland, a former State Department spokeswoman, who said in a press conference shortly after the vote that it was contrary to the goal of achieving peace in the Middle East.

Ceasing its contributions put the US into arrears with the organization. A country's voting status is suspended two years after arrears begin.

A law passed by the US Congress in 1994 prohibits the country from funding, "the United Nations or any specialised agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organisation the same standing as member states”.

The US was to pay $80m in dues in 2011 towards UNESCO's approved 2010-2011 budget of $653m. $60m was not paid.

In an indication of a potential shift at the White House, Kerry said on Sunday that, "President Obama and I are fully committed to working with the American Congress in order to do all that we can to re-establish full US financing, contributing to the success of the organisation."

Read more on:    unesco  |  john kerry  |  us

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