UNESCO has decided to terminate all of its activities and programs until the end of the year after the United States withdrew its funding, as Palestine was accepted into the world’s key cultural agency, said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Addressing the just-concluded 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference on Thursday, Bokova said the agency faces a USD 65 million funding shortfall and would have to halt all of its activities since the USA cut its funding because the agency’s General Assembly voted to admit Palestine as a full-fledged member.
Bokova hoped that the year-end review would allow savings, worth roughly USD 35 million in UNESCO programs, which support cultural, educational and scientific projects around the world.
The US funding of USD 70 million for UNESCO makes up for about 20 percent of UNESCO’s total annual budget, she said.
UNESCO has ended up in an international diplomatic crisis after 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 independent country. Some 107 out of a total of 193 members said “yes”, while 52 said “no” with 14 abstentions.
The admission of Palestine to UNESCO has led to staunch reactions by Israel and the USA.