News / Europe

Without US Funds, UNESCO Struggling to Stay Afloat

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivering a speech, Paris, Jan. 30, 2012.UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivering a speech, Paris, Jan. 30, 2012.
x
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivering a speech, Paris, Jan. 30, 2012.
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova delivering a speech, Paris, Jan. 30, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
Washington's suspension of dues to UNESCO after Palestine became a formal member last year has left the U.N. agency grappling with a funding crisis, and the United States risks losing its membership.
 
UNESCO Secretary-General Irina Bokova describes the 2011 funding freeze by the agency's largest contributor as crippling, leaving it with a $152-million budget gap.
 
"And because the U.S. always pays at the end of the year, always, we have already spent this money in the expectation that the U.S. was going to pay," she said. "So it was very unexpected, drastic, and that is why I dare say it was the worst-ever financial situation for the organization."
 
Washington suspended payments last October, after the Paris-based U.N. agency voted to admit Palestine as its newest member. The event marked a watershed for Palestinian statehood efforts. The U.S. government is legally required to cut funds to any U.N. agency that recognizes a Palestinian state.
 
Bokova describes UNESCO as the victim of politics. 
 
"I think UNESCO was caught in the middle of this political turmoil of Middle Eastern conflict, and I think this is unfair because this is not the way some of the solutions of the Middle Eastern conflict could be found," she said.
 
Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Norway and many other member states have since boosted their contributions to help fill the hole, but Bokova called the funding situation unsustainable, as Washington's dues normally account for about 20 percent of UNESCO's budget.
 
The freeze has forced the agency to make drastic spending cuts to staffing and programs, including Holocaust education.
 
"It is important, not only because we fund Holocaust [education] per se — it is part of it, of course, but for us it is linked to genocide, it is linked to human rights," said Bokova. "For many countries, African and others, this is important work that has to be done."
 
Bokova has been lobbying U.S. politicians and other influential groups for a change in policy, explaining that it is not just about money.
 
"Because they will not only lose their voting rights, but they are losing their credibility," she said. "We have a lot of expectations that this message will be well understood by the United States."
 
The deadline for a change of heart is next year. Otherwise the United States will lose UNESCO membership for failing to pay its dues.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 13, 2012 3:07 PM
Bokova knew all the implications of the action before UNESCO went ahead to admit PLO. So should stop begging USA to continue funding you. It's a matter of policy in USA and there appears nothing you can do now about it until Congress restores again to empower its foreign policy otherwise. UNESCO is a baby of the UN and should have allowed it take the first step before jumping in to admit PLO. Please learn your lesson from this. I support USA to continue starving you of fund until you learn to behave well. Give respect to whom it is due.


by: Laura from: USA
October 11, 2012 5:52 PM
Thank God for the USA - for showing some backbone concerning these degenerate Arab Palestinians... let the "Arab World" take care of their own despicable scumbags. and that should apply equally to the Egyptians, Libyans, and all other assorted malicious scumbags in the region...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid