US fears China and wants to return to UNESCO

US fears China and wants to return to UNESCO
UNESCO Director Audrey Azoulay announced today that he will return to the United States as planned

NOS news

After years of absence, the United States wants to return to UNESCO. The AP news agency writes that Washington is doing this out of fear that China’s influence will increase within the World Heritage Organization. The problems between the United States and the UN system seem to have been resolved.

The then President Trump decided to withdraw from UNESCO in 2017. He accused the organization of an anti-Israel attitude and said the organization was poorly managed. These problems have now been addressed with reforms, the Ministry of External Affairs wrote in a letter to UNESCO.

Competitive battle

The Biden administration sees a return to competition with China as critical. In addition to protecting cultural and natural heritage, UNESCO also focuses on scientific education and technical standards.

“So if we really want to compete with China in the digital age, we can’t stay out any longer,” a senior official said in March. The two superpowers have been engaged in a geopolitical battle for global influence for years.

Billions of dollars

The United States currently allocates $150 million to renewed membership. Before leaving, Washington was UNESCO’s largest donor. The country paid almost a quarter of the annual budget.

President Biden and his potential successor will need to make money available for this in the coming years. According to the AP, the US still owes $619 million to Heritage.

There has been years of lobbying for withdrawal. Relations between UNESCO and the United States have been strained since 2011. In that year, the UN accepted Palestine as a member. There, allies Israel and the United States were outraged: they stopped funding UNESCO.

America also resigned under Reagan

The 193 members, which still include Palestine, are likely to vote next month on the possibility of a US return. By the way, this is not the first time. Washington withdrew from UNESCO in 1984 under then-President Reagan. In 2003, repatriation was allowed after a referendum.

Reagan accused UNESCO of mismanagement and political bias. At the time, the US president felt that the organ was being overused to promote the interests of the Soviet Union.

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