Too little cash, too much politics, leaves UNESCO fighting for life.’ Discuss the statement in the light of US’ withdrawal and its accusation of the cultural body as being ‘anti-Israel bias’.

UNESCO is the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural agency cofounded after World War II to foster peace. The withdrawal of the US from the organization is a severe blow.

Too Little Cash

UNESCO receives its major income from assessed, mandatory membership contributions. The member states had to pay annually to the regular budgets which were adopted by the UNESCO General Conference on a biannual basis. Regular budgets are supplemented by voluntary contributions of both governmental and non-governmental entities.

National contributions make up around 60 per cent of the UNESCO budget. US-funded nearly one-fifth of the total budget of UNESCO every year. The US had withheld funds since 2011 which had resulted in a financial crisis and Israel owes the organization $10 Million.

Further UNESCO is strapped with huge dues as a large number of member countries does not pay on time. Hence the UNESCO is faced with cash crunch is forced to cut down many of its key initiatives.

Too Much Politics: Anti-Israel Bias

UNESCO has been a theatre for politics which revolves around Israel and Palestine for long. When UNESCO voted on admission of Palestine as a full member in 2011, USA and Israel were the 14 out of 194 countries that had voted against admitting Palestine. It is not a coincidence that the US has withheld its contribution from 2011.

The designation of Hebron and the two adjoined shrines-the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque is also marred by controversy. While the Arab World is accusing Israel of an “alarming” number of violations that included vandalism, property damage, and other attacks that had an impact on its authenticity and integrity, Israel sees the designation as part of the efforts to belittle its legitimacy over the region.

Fighting for Life

The cash crunch has forced the UNESCO to explore other avenues. The west until now was setting the cultural agenda is losing its predominance and the balance of power inside UNESCO is shifting.

Saudi Arabia, Norway, China, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Qatar and Algeria have all sprung to UNESCO’s aid. UNESCO is in a transition phase and will adjust to a new normal of a multi-polar world in days to come.


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