Israel has said it will join the US in pulling out of the UN’s cultural organisation UNESCO after US officials cited “anti-Israel bias”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US decision as “brave and moral”, a statement said.
The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria’s Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.
Unesco head Irina Bokova earlier called the US withdrawal a matter of “profound regret”.
Why is the US withdrawing?
The US and UNESCO have actually been at loggerheads since 2011.
The key issue now, as with many US-UN disputes, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In October 2011, UNESCO admitted the Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. This triggered a US law which cut off American funding for any organization that recognized an independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22 percent ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget.
Finally, in 2013, after the US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO, the organization suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies. So the US hasn’t been a real UNESCO member for a while.
UNESCO is a United Nations organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide.
It is a special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France, that promotes sex education and literacy as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world.
It is also known for its work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient villages, ruins and temples, and historic sites such as the Great Mosque of Samarra in Iraq, which at one point came under threat of being destroyed by the Islamic State.
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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has floated a five-point proposal at the United Nations to find a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Emphasising swift action to resolve the crisis in her speech at the 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Thursday, she called for immediate steps to end the ‘cleansing’ of the ethnic Rohingya minority. She was at the centre stage at the UNGA this year, with the Rohingya crisis deepening along Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, a crossing made by over 430,000 refugees fleeing violence in Rakhine State in past over three weeks.
Hasina’s five-point proposal says: Myanmar must stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State unconditionally, immediately and forever; the UN Secretary-General should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar; all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, must be protected in Myanmar; for this, ‘safe zones’ could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision; sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar must be ensured; and the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be implemented immediately, unconditionally and entirely.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from the Rakhine State are entering Bangladesh to flee the violence. As estimated by IOM (International Organisation for Migration), in last three weeks, over 430,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh. They are fleeing ‘ethnic cleansing’ in their own country where they have been living for centuries,” Hasina said, adding that Bangladesh is currently sheltering over 800,000 Rohingya in all.
She proposed that the UN Secretary-General send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar where ‘safe zones’ can be built under the UN’s supervision for the protection of all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
Before her speech at the UNGA general debate, she cleared Bangladesh’s stance over the protracted Rohingya crisis at several meetings at the UN Headquarters in New York. At the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Contact Group meeting on Tuesday, she demanded Myanmar take back the refugees and end ‘state propaganda’ that labelled the ethnic group as ‘Bengalis’.
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