WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government announced on Thursday it would withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the end of 2018, citing a need for reform and an anti-Israel bias in the organization, the US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The decision reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO, Nauert added.
US Ignored Financial Obligations to UNESCO
The Trump administration’s announcement came after a long record of official US suspicion and hostility toward UNESCO that had led to a backlog in dues coming to over half a billion dollars this decade, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus of International Law John Quigley recalled.
"The United States has been threatening withdrawal over the Israel issue for 20 years. It stopped paying dues in 2011," he said. "This is a disgraceful record for a country that purports to be a world leader." Senior US officials continued to make unfounded and undocumented against UNESCO to justify their hostile policy towards it, Quigley observed.
The Trump administration was legally committed to paying US dues to UNESCO over the next year although it had given no indication it was prepared to honor its obligation to do so, Quigley pointed out.
"Under the UNESCO Constitution, a notice of withdrawal is effective on December 31 of the year following the date of the notice. So the United States remains a member until December 31, 2018. It remains liable for dues until that date. The Trump administration is apparently planning to violate that obligation," he said.
The United States will assume observer status in UNESCO in 2019, according to reports.
Trump Move Part of Wider Hostile Strategy Against UN
The US decision to withdraw from UNESCO was part of a wider campaign that the Trump administration is waging against the United Nations and its associated agencies, California State University Professor Emeritus of Political Science Beau Grosscup warned.
"It is clear that the… neoconservative zealots have great influence within the Trump administration and have decided to go after the United Nations for its alleged anti-Israel bias," he said.The decision to leave UNESCO also reflected the extreme nationalist attitudes Trump had expressed in his 2016 election campaign, Grosscup explained.
These primary motives were deliberately concealed beneath a justification of claiming that US commitments to UNESCO and other international organizations needed to be allegedly "reformed" and the US commitment to them "renegotiated," Grosscup noted.
"Once again it is done under the cover of calling for 'reform' of an international institution or the 'renegotiation' of an existing treaty," he said.
UNESCO was set up at a United Nations educational and cultural conference in London in 1945 after the end of World War II. Its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural advancement.