UNESCO’s 73rd anniversary – why are others not celebrating?

On the day that Unesco celebrates its 73rdanniversary, others see reasons not to join in – literally.

Britain’s relationship with the organisation is left under duress after Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, has called for the country to cut ties and withdraw itself from the body.

According to The Times, Miss Mordaunt’s department ranks Unesco as its ‘worst performing multilateral agency’ and believes that its work does not meet her spending criteria for international aid – in which £11.1 million is given to the organisation.

What is Unesco?

Founded in 1945, Unesco was established as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Coinciding around the end of World War Two, the declared purpose of the organisation is to “contribute peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights”.

With 195 member states and 11 associate members committed today, it is no doubt that Unesco has achieved much greatness and delivered many commendable projects, including comprehensive work in Africa, which to Unesco, has always been placed as a global, ‘core priority’. Their work focuses on demographic growth, social transformations, democratic governance, sustainable development and economic growth.

The ideologies of the organisation seem to be with pure intent but over the years other countries have had concern and made criticisms against the organisation – mostly due to politics or financial aspects.

In October 2017, less than a year following his presidency, Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the organisation due to “anti-Israel bias” and financial concerns. The reasoning for this decision happened after Unesco designated the old city of Hebron in the West Bank (including its Tomb of the Patriarchs), a Palestinian World Heritage site.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauret.

Subsequently, a few hours later, Israeli prime minister stated: “This is a brave and moral decision, because Unesco has become a theatre of absurd. Instead of preserving history, it distorts it.”

According to Politics Home, at this point there has been no change in the UK’s commitment to Unesco, “we’re committed to ensuring UK aid goes to the highest-performing multilateral agencies that deliver on achieving the UK’s core aid objectives and value for money for taxpayers.”



Words by Megan Naylor | Subbing by Maria Campuzano

Featured image credit: Photo by Christoph Theisinger on Unsplash

Accessibility | Cookies | Terms of use and privacy