UNESCO Head Bokova Pleads US to Restore FundingWorld | November 2, 2011, Wednesday // 18:39| views
A handout photo issued by UNESCO shows Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Riyad Al-Malki speaking during the session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France, 31 October 2011. EPA/BGNES
Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian Director-General of UNESCO, is pleading with the USA to reinstate funding for the UN agency for education, science and culture, after the Palestinian Authority was granted membership by its General Assembly.
UNESCO has ended up in an international diplomatic crisis after on Monday the majority of its members voted in favor of admitting Palestine as a full-fledged member even though the latter has not been recognized internationally as an independence country.
The admission of Palestine to UNESCO led to harsh reactions by Israel and by the USA, which terminated its annual funding for the world organization based on two laws from 1991 and 1994 that stipulate the cutoff of US money for any organization that might grant full membership to territories that are not internationally recognized as states such as the PA.
Meanwhile, Canada said it was mulling quitting UNESCO because of the controversy with Palestine's accession.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova warned in a statement Wednesday that the move jeopardizes programs "in America's core interests," such as those fostering a free media in nascent Mideast democracies.
She said that without US support, "it will be impossible for us to maintain our current level of activity."
The United States typically funds about 20% of the agency's budget, which translates into about USD 70 M per year.
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