The United States withdraws from UNESCO—a “misguided decision”

October 31, 2017


 "It is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”


In 1945 shortly after the end of World War II, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded and headquartered in Paris, France. The primary mission of UNESCO is to build an overarching culture of peace around the world. Situated on a modern campus representing the mid-20th-century ideals of international art and architecture, UNESCO now has 195 member states and 10 associate members. Soon, the United States will not be one of them. (The 2011 photo above shows the UNESCO grounds and Eiffel Tower in the background at night).


The US was a founding party of UNESCO in 1945 and remained its largest funder for nearly 40 years. In 1984, however, citing a divergence in goals, the US withdrew from UNESCO and did not return to the organization for almost 20 years. In 2003, the US rejoined UNESCO and once again began providing international leadership in the fields of science, education, and culture. Now, the US is scheduled to withdraw once again (to take effect in 2018), citing an alleged anti-Israel bias within the organization.


One of the most important advances made by UNESCO is bringing international attention to the destruction of cultural property during armed conflict (see the Hague Convention), which has been particularly egregious across the Middle East, most recently with the destruction of heritage sites in Syria and Iraq by ISIS. UNESCO also works to promote international cooperation in stemming the sale of illegal antiquities that has provided significant funding to ISIS as well as other programs to protect cultural heritage. And, of course, the World Heritage Convention, which is administered by UNESCO, promotes the protection of natural and cultural sites around the world that have outstanding universal value, including monitoring endangered World Heritage sites.


In light of the impending US withdrawal from UNESCO, this opinion writer talks discusses this “misguided decision.” Other links provide additional perspectives on different aspects of UNESCO’s work.



Why UNESCO Needs the United States

By Hugh Eakin

October 31, 2017

The New York Times


Also read


World Heritage politics flare up—this time over Jerusalem

By International Heritage News Network

July 6, 2017


National legislation to support the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property during armed conflict

By International Heritage News Network

July 3, 2017


Is the Museum of the Bible on a dangerous search for artifacts? A word from UNESCO’s Director General.

By International Heritage News Network

July 18, 2017


Please reload

Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon

Contact the International Heritage News Network at info The Privacy Policy for the International Heritage News Network has been compiled to better serve those who are concerned with how their 'Personally Identifiable Information' (PII) is being used online. Go to IHN Network Privacy Policy >

© 2016-2018  by the International Heritage News Network. All photos are the property of the

International Heritage News Network, unless otherwise noted.  Proudly created with and grateful for the assistance of Christopher C. Celauro (see About the IHN Network).