We regret that today the United States lost its vote in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference as a result of legislative restrictions that have precluded payment of U.S. dues to UNESCO. The restrictions were triggered when UNESCO member states voted to grant the Palestinians membership as a state in 2011.
We note a loss of vote in the General Conference is not a loss of U.S. membership. The United States intends to continue its engagement with UNESCO in every possible way – we can attend meetings and participate in debate, and we will maintain our seat and vote as an elected member of the Executive Board until 2015.
UNESCO and U.S. leadership at UNESCO matter. UNESCO directly advances U.S. interests in supporting girls’ and women’s education, facilitating important scientific research, promoting tolerance, protecting and preserving the world’s natural and cultural heritage, supporting freedom of the press, and much more. It is in that vein that President Obama has requested legislative authority to allow the United States to continue to pay its dues to UN agencies that admit the Palestinians as a member state when doing so is in the U.S. national interest. Although that proposal has not yet been enacted by Congress, the President remains committed to that goal.