The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO considers the continuation of US funding for and active participation in UNESCO to be in the national interest.  We urge the Administration and Congress to make a national interest finding to continue such funding and participation, and encourage other organizations and individuals to communicate their concern as well. 

UNESCO programs complement US values and advance our foreign policy interests. The potential loss of US voting rights and our place on the Executive Board of UNESCO would mean the loss of US influence on UNESCO programs and policies of vital national interest to the US.

The continued suspension of funding and the loss of our vote and place on the Executive Board of UNESCO would have the following national and foreign policy implications, among others:

  • A sharp reduction of US opportunities to participate officially in international dialogues to prevent and mitigate conflict, and to achieve the peaceful resolution of international, inter-cultural and religious conflicts, which many member states now consider to be one of UNESCO’s highest program priorities;
  • An inability for the US to contribute to UNESCO’s global Education for All (EFA) activities, girls’ and women’s education initiatives, and early childhood, literacy and higher education programs that are essential for US universities, institutes and international development efforts;
  • A withdrawal of the US from critically important discussions on the freedom of the press and protection of journalists, and from open communications and global arrangements for information technologies that are important for our information technology industries;
  • A reduction of US contributions to and participation in world heritage activities, including the restoration and protection of many cultural sites of great historical importance (such as Timbuktu, Mali and Bagan, Myanmar), heritage sites throughout Syria, and many other world heritage sites;
  • The cessation of US official involvement in UNESCO’s water conservation programs, international science education and research activities, tsunami awareness programs, climate change, and many other key initiatives in the science and social science areas, which require international agreements and collaborations; and
  • A withdrawal from a wide range of sustainable development activities of major importance to future national as well as global wellbeing, such as human rights education, environmental protection, support for post-conflict and post-disaster countries, and education for preventing HIV/AIDS.

Recommendation: That in light of these and many other foreign policy considerations, Congress pass a national interest waiver of the requirements under laws passed in 1990 and 1994, take steps to resume payment of all assessments due and payable as of January 1, 2012, and resume the US contribution to UNESCO prior to loss of US membership and voting rights on UNESCO’s Executive Board.

Approved by the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO on March 23, 2013.

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