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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid