United States Withdraws From UNESCO

United States Withdraws From UNESCO



Heather Nauert
Washington, DC
October 12, 2017

On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO. This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.

The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Pursuant to Article II(6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time.


A look back on articles:

Washington Times – 10/24/16 – by Ted Cruz –  “America’s missed UNESCO opportunity…The United States should be leading the charge against anti-Israel bias at the UN, not trying to fund it”

“A demonstration of moral courage occurred two weeks ago in a most unlikely place: the UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris. During a contentious vote on the “Occupied Palestine” resolution, Mexico’s Ambassador to UNESCO walked out. Andrés Roemer reportedly decided he could not support a resolution that attempts to expunge thousands of years of

His audacity cost him his job—but it also focused attention on this resolution. Mexico decided to change its stance to abstention and intended to call for a re-vote to formally withdraw support. Brazil also indicated it had serious reservations and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Chairman of the Board Michael Worbs voiced concerns, raising hopes that another vote would allow countries to reconsider their support, or that final passage would be delayed. Italy’s Prime Minister subsequently criticized the text and added his country would encourage other European colleagues to oppose such measures in the future.

The Obama administration has attempted to explain that America was powerless to prevent the resolution’s passage because our laws have prohibited funding to UNESCO after it accepted “Palestine” as a member in 2011, and that the solution is to restore funding. But other UN entities have not followed UNESCO’s lead because they disagree on the Palestinian issue, but rather because they fear the loss of the US taxpayer dollars that pay their salaries—leverage America can and should exploit. Additionally, support for the Palestinians no longer seems to be an article of faith for a number of countries such as Mexico and Brazil, not to mention our NATO ally Italy, and they now might be inclined to join with the US in supporting Israel.”

CNS News – 11/03/2011 – by Patrick Goodenough – “Obama ‘Remains Deeply Committed to UNESCO’ Despite Vote to Admit Palestine”

The United States was re-elected to the Executive Board of the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday, two days after the agency’s admission of “Palestine” forced the Obama administration reluctantly to cut off funding in compliance with U.S. laws.

Although the administration announced Monday that it was halting funding for UNESCO, beginning with $60 million it had been intending to pay this month, the U.S. envoy to the agency, David Killion, stressed that continuing U.S. participation was not in doubt.

“President Obama has made strong multilateral engagement across the UN system – including at UNESCO – a top priority and a core aspect of U.S. foreign policy,” he told the General Conference shortly after it had voted by a large margin to admit “Palestine” as a full member.

The U.S. accounts for 22 percent of UNESCO’s operating budget and also makes voluntary contributions; A funding cut will save U.S. taxpayers a little more than $80 million a year.

Washington Free Beacon – 12/16/2015 – by Adam Kredo – “Congress Rejects Obama Move to Restore Funding for Anti-Israel U.N. Group”

“Congress has rejected a request by the Obama administration to restore U.S. funding for a United Nations organization long criticized for its anti-Israel bias, according to sources on Capitol Hill.

The Washington Free Beacon disclosed earlier this week that the Obama administration was pressuring lawmakers on Capitol Hill to restore around $80 million in annually funding to the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.”





It is about time that our country puts a foot down. 

Obama did his best to pour our money into the UN directly and indirectly. I have no way of knowing nor finding I think a complete accounting of how much was shipped to the various divisions of the UN from Obama’s “so-called” right of executive privilege.  A Heritage Foundation report in 2010 may give a starting point though. 

According to OMB, total U.S. contributions to the U.N. system were more than $6.347 billion in FY 2009. This is more than $1 billion more than total contributions as compiled by OMB for FY 2005. 

For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides funding to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Department of Energy provides funds to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Department of Health and Human Services provides funds to UNICEF. The State Department had no authority to require other departments to report these funding activities; therefore, estimates by the State Department on U.S. funding of the U.N. system generally failed to take them into account.


I wonder how much funds were sent secretly through backdoors to UNESCO via individual executive agencies at Obama’s insistence.  I doubt UNESCO would have been appeased and quiet if something were not padding their account from the US. 


About Uriel

Retired educator and constitutionalist
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18 Responses to United States Withdraws From UNESCO

  1. whitetop says:

    Typical of our do gooder politicians; don’t write accountability or liability into funding for corrupt organizations. After all it is just taxpayer dollars that support this corrupt organization. My hopes and prayers are that Trump will get the US out of the UN since this world body only wants US dollars. One would think that somewhere along the line since 1947 that we would have figured out you can’t buy friendship. How many billions have we given to corrupt leaders but still haven’t learned the lesson?

    • Uriel says:

      Well said Whitetop. To completely remove from the UN is a dream though. Logically, we have to have some “ears” and “eyes” within organizations such as the UN or we could find ourselves destroyed because we are unaware of their activities. Obviously this is done behind closed doors now but at least we have some sway while being a member to influence the outcome.

      However, we should NOT be shouldering the greatest portion of any expenses. There needs to be a singular fund payment to the UN from which all UN groups designated can receive a portion. At least that way we can be more transparent and able to control who and how much funding is given. Obama transferred money, weapons, supplies, and equipment under the cover of agencies through backdoors in addition to normal funding through congress. This has to be shut down so that no future president has that option at least not without specifically getting permission from Budget oversight and congress.

      • A “singular fund payment” sounds good but, with the OIC running this rogue “Beast”, it allows them to continue funding those regimes whom we would consider hostile to our allies and friends (Israel, for instance).
        After approval of congress’ dollar amount, it’s best to leave appropriations to the Sec. of State, under the personal direction of the President, alone, to sign off on, and allocate funds to certain UN programs as seen fit.

        • Uriel says:

          True. But at least have ALL funding going through a central location and NOT backdoor like Obama did at the very least makes more sense.

      • Navyvet says:

        And you can bet there was a kickback of a portion of these funds directly to Obama.

  2. About damned time! Now to leave the UN, entirely, and throw them out of the US.

  3. Hardnox says:

    All this “Winning” this week. I will never tire of it. 🙂

  4. Popular Front says:

    The USA pulling out of the UN entirely may well cause a landslide of like-minded nations. In my Australia the UN is viewed with suspicion and derision and there is a groundswell movement to get out of it.

    • Uriel says:

      That is possible. But then I would have a question or two.
      1) if that happened wouldn’t it leave a very strong socialist united front of nations able to mobilize against individual or groups of nonsocialist?
      2) who would protect small developing nations from being overtaken by socialist interests?
      3) wouldn’t that escalate WWIII?

      • Uriel says:

        Don’t forget several old allies like U.K. And France are more socialist than democratic now

      • Popular Front says:

        Good points Uriel but the USA, in pulling out of the UN, is not abandoning its friends and allies. The political and diplomatic situations would remain the same, the difference being the US is no longer a money tree for the various ragtag and bobtail deadbeat nations to tap into. Remember, nobody has to be in an inclusive ‘club’ to stand by their friends.
        As for WW3, the closest we have come to major conflict is North Korea, who seem hellbent on self destruction. Scenario: the Norks launch a missile at Guam, or possibly Japan. US retaliation is swift and deadly. North Korea is pulverised. Do you really think the Chinese will step in and escalate the conflict? The Russians? In a word NO, they have far too much to lose themselves going into bat for a nutjob like Kim Jong Lardass. Sacrifice their industrial and trade progress in a futile three-way nuclear exchange? Again, NO.