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10 Nov, 2013

U.S., Israel lose voting rights for failing to resume funding: UNESCO


PARIS, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced Saturday that the United States and Israel lost their voting rights at the organization for not paying due contributions since November 2011.

The U.S. and Israel stopped to pay their dues to the UN cultural organization in protest of UNESCO’s decision to accept Palestine as its 195th member.

The U.S. payments account for 22 percent of the UNESCO’s budget. The withholding of the contribution made the organization a loss of 220 million U.S. dollars over the three years from 2011 to the present, and has placed the UN cultural agency into a financial crisis.

The UNESCO rule indicated that member states that do not pay dues for two years lose their right to vote in UNESCO’s General Conference.

The United States and Israel as well as other three members states fail to meet the crucial deadline for resuming funding or submitting an explanation for its arrears to the organization by Friday. That rule came into effect for those countries after the APX Commission’s proposal was endorsed on Saturday by the 37th plenary session of the General Conference of UNESCO.

After the decision was announced, Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova “express regret at the loss of voting rights by the United States” when addressing delegates at the General Conference.

“This is not only about financing,” the director general said, “This is about values. This is the ‘smart power’ that is in such need today, to lay the foundations for lasting peace and sustainable development.”

She called for the “engagement of all states at this time of rapid change and deepening interdependence in the world, in this era of globalization and vulnerability,” and vowed to continue to work for the universality of her organization.

On his part, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion expressed his country’s intention to keep its “engagement with UNESCO in every possible way,” explaining that the U.S. authorities have been “working tirelessly to seek legislative remedy” to resume the contributions to the UN cultural organization.

Founded in 1946, UNESCO aims to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, communication and information. To date, it has a total of 195 member states.