Thursday, 3 November 2011


PARIS - Certain international education and arts programmes will be hurt by the United States' decision to cut funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, following  a vote by UNESCO's member states to grant Palestine full membership in the organisation.

Announcing the vote at UNESCO. Photo: A. McKenzie
"The withholding of U.S. dues and other financial contributions – required by U.S. law – will weaken UNESCO’s effectiveness and undermine its ability to build free and open societies,” the agency’s director-general Irina Bokova stated this week.

U.S. funding helps UNESCO to develop and sustain free and competitive media in Iraq, Tunisia and Egypt,” she said. “In Afghanistan, U.S. support is helping UNESCO to teach thousands of police officers to read and write.”

Bokova said that UNESCO literacy programmes in other areas of conflict “give people the critical thinking skills and confidence they need to fight violent extremism”.  She added that UNESCO was also training journalists to cover elections objectively “to sustain the democratic spirit of the Arab Spring”.

The agency has made the safeguarding of cultural heritage a priority in countries such as Egypt and Libya. It also supports a range of international artistic and cultural initiatives, such as World Theatre Day.