The United States was stripped of its UNESCO voting rights Friday, a move that diminishes U.S. influence over global culture, education and scientific research.
Since 2011, the U.S. has not paid its dues to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in protest over the organization allowing Palestine to become a member. Israel, which also stopped paying its dues, had its voting power suspended as well.
The U.S. used to pay about $80 million a year or 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget. The lack of U.S. funds led the group to scale back initiatives such as Holocaust education and tsunami research.
David Killon, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to UNCESO said in a speech Friday that the U.S. has been “working tirelessly to seek a legislative remedy that would allow the United States to resume paying our contributions to UNESCO. Regrettably, that remedy has not yet been achieved."
Killon went on to defend the U.S. suspension of funds to the organization.
According to the Associated Press, some of the programs cut due to lack of funding include a program to restore water facilities in Iraq, a Holocaust and genocide awareness program in Africa, which was hoped to increase ethnic tolerance and non-violence using the Holocaust as an example.
The U.S. rejoined UNESCO in 2002 after an 18-year hiatus over a difference in vision.
Estimates are that the U.S. bill to UNESCO grows by about $220,000 per day.