• Sunday, 14 July 2024

UNESCO 'strengthened' by return of US after a nearly six-year absence

UNESCO 'strengthened' by return of US after a nearly six-year absence

Paris, 25 July 2023 (dpa/MIA) - The return of the United States to UNESCO after a nearly six year absence has strengthened the organization, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said on Tuesday.

"In these times of division, of discord, of even existential threats to humanity, we reaffirm our union here today," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said at a ceremony in Paris on Tuesday. The US was absent for five-and-a-half years.

She said the return of the US to UNESCO strengthened the universality of the institution. US First Lady Jill Biden said, "We are so proud to rejoin UNESCO." The US flag was then raised alongside those of UNESCO's other member states.

In 2011, the US had initially suspended its contributions to the international organisation in a political dispute surrounding the Middle East conflict, which overshadowed UNESCO's work for many years.

Then, at the end of 2017, under President Donald Trump, it announced its intention to withdraw from the organization completely. The US and Israel accused the organization of bias against Israel, and politicization.

Azoulay made it her mission when she took office in 2017 to lead UNESCO out of the crisis and continue to engage with the US and Israel. UNESCO said the US welcomed the way UNESCO had addressed new challenges, modernized its management and reduced political tensions in recent years. An administrative reform launched in 2018 made UNESCO more efficient and financially sound, it said.

Photo: EPA