Better World Campaign Statement on the U.S. Decision to Withdraw from UNESCO

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Washington, D.C. (October 12, 2017) — Better World Campaign President Peter Yeo issued the following statement today regarding the United States’ decision to formally withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO):
“We are deeply disappointed in the Administration’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO. The U.S. played a vital role in the organization’s founding, with famous poet Archibald MacLeish—the first American member of UNESCO’s governing board—drafting the preamble to its 1945 constitution.

“Ultimately, the withdrawal from UNESCO will be a loss for America’s pursuit of human rights and democracy, press freedom, and education for all.

“This move eliminates U.S. leadership and influence in an important international organization that is advancing U.S. interests at home and abroad. UNESCO’s programs are currently complementing U.S. military efforts to bring stability and democracy to volatile regions and counter the rise of terror groups.

“For example, in Afghanistan, UNESCO is working to improve literacy among members of their police force. In Iraq and Syria, the organization is working to stop ISIS’ sale of antiquities, which help fund their illicit activities. UNESCO is also working to combat the spread of ISIS’ influence in the region through education programs.

“In addition to advancing U.S. national security interests, the actions of UNESCO can have powerful economic impacts at the local level. There are currently twenty-three designated UNESCO Heritage Sites in the U.S., which bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue to local economies and result in thousands more jobs. Furthermore, our complete withdrawal could potentially hinder the approval of future U.S. sites.

“It is worth noting that the decision to withdraw from UNESCO is not part of a broader disengagement plan from the United Nations by the Trump Administration.

“We hope that existing U.S. institutions – from libraries to corporations – can further develop their ties with UNESCO to ensure an element of American influence in the organization.”

About the Better World Campaign

The Better World Campaign works to foster a strong relationship between the U.S. and the UN to promote core American interests and build a more secure, prosperous, and healthy world. The Better World Campaign engages policymakers, the media, and the American public alike to increase awareness of the critical role played by the UN in world affairs and the importance of constructive U.S.-UN relations.

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Media Contact: Erika Briceno Howard | ebriceno@unfoundation.org | 202-864-5156

October 12, 2017