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US Defunds UNESCO After Palestine Vote 735

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-case-of-politics-v-science dept.
gzipped_tar writes "The U.S. withdrew funding after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Palestine membership vote yesterday. The decision was triggered by a 1994 US law that requires financial ties to be cut with any UN agency that accords the Palestinians full membership. As Palestine actively pursues entrance to other UN agencies, the defunding list could grow. Interestingly, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) could also be among Palestine's next target, and U.S. is the big supporter of WIPO. A much more disturbing scenario is Palestine joining the International Atomic Energy Agency, cutting American funding to the organization that monitors nuclear proliferation in states like Iran."
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US Defunds UNESCO After Palestine Vote

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  • by Calibax (151875) * on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:34PM (#37911884)

    UNESCO is one of the most highly regarded and wide-spread agencies for cultural preservation in the World. There is a fundamental flaw in a law predicating U.S. contributions to the United Nations and U.N. affiliates on their members voting a certain way. UNESCO does not control its members and how they vote.

    The fact that a majority of UNESCO members want to grant admission to a Palestinian state is no reason for the U.S. to "pick up its marbles and go home." UNESCO would be better with U.S. participation. The U.S. would be better off by participating in UNESCO.

    This law should be repealed before the US has removed itself from every UN organization in the world.

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:37PM (#37911940) Homepage

      Pft.
      The palestians have and regularly trashed historical artifacts belonging to other cultures in the region, they should have never been invited to join it. Canada is looking to defund from it as well, and with good cause.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:41PM (#37911978)

        So has Israel, and they were even ejected from UNESCO over it for awhile. Either way, this article isn't about Palestine (or Israel, or anyone else in the middle east) it's about the US having a law that prevents funding for scientific and cultural pursuits for political reasons. Regardless of who the parties are, there's no good reason for such inane laws.

        • by Surt (22457) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:46PM (#37912062) Homepage Journal

          Unless, of course, you are running a democracy, and want your tax money spent in accordance with the people's wishes.
          But you know, ignoring that reason there's no good reason.

          • by fredrated (639554) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:53PM (#37912198) Journal

            "tax money spent in accordance with the people's wishes"

            Wow, has that happened anywhere in this country? For example, a large majority of Americans want us out of Afganistan, but don't let that bother you, just keep imagining that in this country we only spend money the people want spent.

            • by Surt (22457)

              So your suggestion is that since things are bad in one area, we should make them as horrible as possible? How about instead we take every inch we can towards making things better?

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              For example, a large majority of Americans want us out of Afganistan

              Where did you get that idea? I've never seen any surveys showing that. Sure, there's plenty of people that do believe that, but not a majority. Most Americans seem to be happy to continue funding foreign wars. Otherwise, they would vote for anti-war politicians, and they aren't doing that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kikito (971480)

            "tax money spent in accordance with the people's wishes."

            bwhahahaha. haha.

          • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @07:57PM (#37914426) Journal

            Are you sure that most Americans actually support that 1994 law? How many even know that it exists?

            Personally, it sounds like an extremely silly law to me. I understand why U.S. would oppose recognition of specific Palestinian organizations that are terrorist in nature, like HAMAS. But why the mere recognition of Palestine as a separate and distinct entity from Israel (which it defacto is) such a big issue in U.S. politics, other than the major Israeli political lobby that it has?

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Because according to a large number of American Christians (the fundamentalist ones), if we allow the Palestinians to have their own country, this somehow equates to not giving Israel our full support no matter how much they abuse the Palestinians, and this will bring about the rise of The Beast, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So has Israel, and they were even ejected from UNESCO over it for awhile. Either way, this article isn't about Palestine (or Israel, or anyone else in the middle east) it's about the US having a law that prevents funding for scientific and cultural pursuits for political reasons. Regardless of who the parties are, there's no good reason for such inane laws.

          You do realize that the US government "funding" is nothing more then money taken from its legal citizens that lawfully pay taxes (and don't get it all returned at the end of the tax year). I personally have a problem in spending any sort of money on this extra-curricular activity while in a national debt and especially while people in our own country are in crisis financially. However, I adamantly object to spending for any sort of endeavor where a terrorist lead disputed territory gets a vote on how some n

          • So you agree that killing innocent Palestinians is an act of terror and the US should stop funding Israel. Good for you!

            Israel lost their status as an under dog in need of protection long ago (20+ years). They should succeed or fail without special privilege. The Palestinian nation has as much right to form a state as the displaced Israelis. More right to the land they've been kicked off of. Crimes should be punished on both sides by their own governments, rather than celebrated. Each group protects murdere

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Really? I guess a group of people that are using something and have done something for political reasons isn't obvious to various people. The law is fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Yakasha (42321)

          So has Israel, and they were even ejected from UNESCO over it for awhile.

          So have the Palestinians, but UNESCO didn't get involved... Do they not care about Jewish artifacts?

          Either way, this article isn't about Palestine (or Israel, or anyone else in the middle east) it's about the US having a law that prevents funding for scientific and cultural pursuits for political reasons.

          Funny. I see it as the Palestinians using a scientific & cultural organization (UNESCO) to obtain political gains (recognized statehood), bringing about political ramifications (de-funding of UNESCO).

          a law that prevents funding for scientific and cultural pursuits for political reasons. Regardless of who the parties are, there's no good reason for such inane laws.

          So, we shouldn't care that the Japanese were using POWs as guinea pigs to further their scientific research? We should just fund them and say "morals be damned."

      • Canada just announced they decided to defund UNESCO as well, following USA on this one.

        There is no reason to accept Palestine as a member of UNESCO without knowing the actual borders of the state. A state cannot exist without a known territory and this is exactly the case with Palestine. This is not something against Palestinians themselves, it is about the whole process of what constitute a nation and a country which is a prerequisite for the membership into an organization built around the concept of cou

        • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @08:20PM (#37914628)

          The problem with "borders" is entirely Israel. The more I have looked at the history of the region, the more Israel is dead wrong and should not be supported. The Palistinians are the NATIVE residents of the region, with a claim in the real world that goes back just as far as the Jewish Bible.

          What's going on is just like Apartid in South Africa or the white takeover PC Native Americans or Saddam Hussain gassing Kurds and has no place in modern society. Palistinians are native inhabitants of the land the Jews want. Many were displaced by Jewish militants, guilty of nothing more than the color of their skin and wanting to run from a war, and have been refused return to their rightful family homes. They are not part of some other Arab nation, they are residents of the political borders of Israel removed from their RIGHTFUL PROPERTY because of their race...

          Just like the "Indian wars" in the USA, Settlers from Israel are building homesteads and businesses on land already under international treaty to Palistinians, then claim "terrorism" when that land is contested back. The gig is up if Palistine gets declared a "State" because then Israel gets properly accused of "invasion" rather than just run of the mill domestic oppression.

    • by nharmon (97591) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:40PM (#37911964) Homepage

      Don't you think this is exactly the purpose they had in mind when they passed this law? To make it as costly as possible to do something the United States does not want them to do?

      And since this is blocking future funding and not current funding, this is less like picking up your marbles and going home and more like simply refusing to come to any more marble games.

      • by Calibax (151875) * on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:04PM (#37912364)

        So if certain countries want to have the U.S. removed from certain U.N. affliates, all they have to do is vote the Palestinians as members and the U.S. will defund their contributions. Consequently the U.S will have no vote, and no influence as it's no longer providing any funding.

        Thus the U.S. has given countries who don't like the U.S. some power over the U.S. ability to influence U.N. organizations. The law of unintended consequences.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Straif (172656)

          One small problem with your great plan; most UN actions require US funding or participation to be affective. Seeing the US currently funds almost 1/4 of all UN activities, if they simply stopped paying how much do you think the UN would manage to accomplish (as if they accomplish much now).

          The resolutions may continue flying off the desks of UN diplomats but they will be even more worthless that the ones currently filling their books.

          If the US just decided to give their UN dues to charity instead the world

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stdarg (456557)

          Consequently the U.S will have no vote, and no influence as it's no longer providing any funding.

          And what of value will have been lost?

          Do you think the US wouldn't be allowed to talk to other countries or make deals?

          You'd have the UN passing a bunch of BS that the US typically vetoes at the last moment, like the Muslim countries' "human rights" initiatives that include stuff like "the right to have your religion protected from insult on penalty of death."

          Honestly the idea of all the countries in the world being under one organization was rather boneheaded to begin with. Some countries are just too diff

      • by p0rnking (255997)

        From what I've read elsewhere, the US is denying I think $60 of the $80 million dollars for this year.

        To me, that's pretty current

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Yeah it's like a doomsday machine but looks like it wasn't frightening enough.

    • by sangreal66 (740295) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:47PM (#37912072)

      It seems UNESCO and the US can get along fine without each other, as they did during the 20 years between Reagan's withdrawal from the group and Bush Jr.'s re-entry.

      It will be interesting to see what happens with the WHO/WIPO/WTO/IAEA, etc. but Congress can make exceptions if they feel like it.

      • by mmcuh (1088773) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @04:50PM (#37912130)
        I don't think the current Congress can do anything at all. Certainly not in any issue that has even the slightest chance of being kidnapped by demagogues.
      • Polling suggests Americans as a whole could give a rip about Palestinian issues, and support Israel if they think about it at all. Thus, the tune is increasingly called by Christian Zionists, to the point where Jewish Zionists have become the tail wagged by the dog. So it goes in Congress.

        If/when the Palestinian Authority is admitted to the WIPO and WTO, it'll get really interesting. P.L. 101-246, Title IV (1990) and P.L. 103-236, Title IV (1994) can be amended, and a wide range of large contributors to Con

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How the US sees it:

      1) US pulls funding.
      2) UNESCO cries.
      3) UNESCO kicks Palestine out.

      How China could easily play it:

      1) US pulls funding.
      2) China offers to fund it.
      3) China gains global influence.

      The world isn't the same as it was 20 years ago. Regardless what people think about Israel/Palestine, it's a dangerous game, economically.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JackieBrown (987087)

        China loans money. They do not give it away. They are smarter than the US in this.

        • by grcumb (781340)

          China loans money. They do not give it away. They are smarter than the US in this.

          Well their loans are often what are called 'soft loans'. China will effectively give developing countries a lot of money in exchange for their UN vote on the Taiwan issue, and for as long as that nation maintains its 'One China' policy, they won't ask for repayment. But on the day that country's diplomats say the words 'Republic of China', all those loans become due in full.

          In practice, therefore, their policy doesn't look a lot different from what the US is doing here. The main distinction is that China en

    • Unesco would be better with US only if the US would have a very different type of government...
      With the two current "incumbents", all the additional money the US bring to the Unesco only serve the goals of a few US corporations that nobody needs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lexsird (1208192)

      One questions such apparent insanity upon our behalf, as to why we offer up such resistance to Palestinian progressives. Here we have a golden opportunity to support peaceful elements in the Palestinians who wish to just peacefully exist, and hold them accountable for their groups like Hamas. Hamas can thus be isolated with world pressure, as they run counter to the established, supported leadership which has Statehood. It's a golden opportunity for real progress in the region, but instead, we are adamant o

  • by Meneth (872868)
    Yes, please!
  • Yes, of course, the U.S.'s discrimination against Palestine in all matters is very helpful. The U.S. said the peace process benefits from pulling out of UNESCO, so of course it does. Just as funding Israel's military and violations of International Law helps the peace process.
    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:19PM (#37912606) Homepage Journal

      AFAICT, the peace process is the least of the issues involved here. UNESCO handles world heritage sites - y'know, like Pompeii which suffered two major collapses in the last week or so due to incompetent maintenance and a lack of funds. The money the Palestinians want is, according to them, going to go to a 5th century church (which is properly World Heritage) that is suffering from horrific maintenance issues and may well collapse without proper backing.

      From the NERD perspective, 30% loss of money = 30% loss of World Heritage. That's a damn lot of history that had been, well, damned.

      What happens between Israel and the Palestinians is, in historical terms and geographical terms, insignificant. Even if you consider the entire history of the entire region plus the rest of the Fertile Crescent, it is a pathetic 3,500 years and a trivial geographical space. It's NOTHING. The US' action has put into danger historical sites that are 70,000 years old - 20 TIMES as old as the entire recorded history for the Middle East - across an entire planet!

      If you want to talk peace processes, then the Irish "Troubles" are recorded as having spanned 5,000 years and involved much of Europe and the US - twice the time the Middle East has even had issues and again many times the area. That was NOT solved by defunding the UN but WAS solved by all parties accepting that peaceful settlements were the way to go. The Basque issue, a mere 30 times older than modern Israel though younger than there have been conflicts in the region, was ALSO recently solved by an increase in mutual understanding and mutual efforts to end the futility cycle. Do you seriously think that either would have be settled today if there had been a blockade on assistance or tolerance of any kind? ESPECIALLY if that blockade had been on people completely unrelated to the parties involved?

      (Would the IRA really have stopped shooting if Britain had decided to bomb the Colosseum in Rome in retaliation for the US sending a senator to Ireland? No? That's the practical upshot of what is taking place, so if the logic of such a move is inherently flawed then substituting in the current participants won't make the logic any better.)

      Look, I fully understand Israel's insecurity and fears, and I respect that it has those for good reason, but nowhere in the history of humanity has anyone solved such issues by taking revenge on innocent third parties. I can't even recall any time in the history of humanity where anyone has solved such issued by taking revenge on those actually involved. If you want peace, you are going to have to do something that works. The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, expecting different results. Insanity won't help Israel be safer.

      • Pah you and your facts and common sense. What are ya? Some kinda commie?

      • by martas (1439879)
        Your assumption is that Israel wants to resolve the conflict; their actions clearly show that they don't. Israel doesn't really have a safety problem -- sure, they need fairly tough security in important places, but other than that they have a stable country. Their current policy (the same one they've been using for decades) is working great for them: keep squeezing the Palestinians, increase pressure (economic, political, and social) until they make a "mistake", e.g. some kid throwing a stone at a cop car,
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      Well no, of course not. No more Israel, no more war! Yeah, that's certainly one solution to the problem.

      And AFAIK Obama said nothing about the peace process. What he did was follow the law. Good for him. If you want the law changed, protest to Congress. Or Bill Clinton/ previous Congresses, the law passed under his/ their purview (not that complaining now would do much good.) DO NOT complain when a President actually follows the law.

  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:00PM (#37912290)

    This is an excellent news for Unesco, It did leave it alone from 1984 till 2002/3 and this was mutch better than the years between 2003 and Now.

    First it will remove a large cadre of US employees from Unesco staff, and since there is a total disconnect between the US point of view on education and culture and the rest of the world it will enable the Unesco to work more efficiently without having to focus on making large american corporations and large US private universities happy.

    It also shows how spitefull the current administration is (well the other party would probably do the same), influence at the unesco is largelly dependent on the size of each state contribution, so the US with 22% would have buried the palestinian, in practice maybe one or two managers and at most half a dozen palestinian employees will be hired, and probably mostly active in some cultural history preservation task in the middle east.

    The US could have said publicly that the vote of Unesco is not binding for them, and that the officially "protest" the cooptation of a non state as a full member, but that they would go on working with Unesco to further cultural, etc....

    But no, they have to "punish" the UN, well certainly there are a lot of undemocratic and unsavory regime who have influence there, but remember many are "allies" of the US, and there is no easy way to get people of the world represented.
    To those who think that the US should "remove itself from the UN", just remember that this would in practice mean that "big countries" would unilaterally govern by "divide and conquer", so in the "best (from US point of view) case" you would have an "imperial republic" leading the world by having a small minority (only about 5% of the world population are US citizens) vote for everybody else, in the more likely case you would have the Communist Party of China ruling the world... (US waste of money in the financial system created the crisis which now pushes the European to borrow money from the PRC, how long do you think it will take till you have to pay the interests ?).

    So meanwhile thank you very much leaving the Unesco alone...

  • by CapitalOrange (1552105) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:04PM (#37912362)
    Its funny how there is so much concern for the lack of funding that may result from this. But there is 0 concern that the Palestinian organization/ terrorist groups (aka Hamas) that make up their government are not forced to comply with the standards established by the organization. It supposed to support peace, freedom right and understanding. I didn't know supporting suicide bombings was a plus on the application. The bottom line is just a couple of weeks ago the Palestinians cheered many returned from jail for committing unspeakable acts of murder on civilians and the UN member countries (most of which are run by thuggish dictators) looked the other way. The UN has a long history of antisemitism, from the Durban conference to multiple other examples. The US foots far too much of the bill for these organizations as it is. If they want to continue in their racist ways, it shouldn't be on our dime. PS this isn't just for new projects, UNSECO won't get another dime going forward. Other agencies should keep this in mind before supporting a group on multiple terrorist list (Hamas) with a full membership in a international body.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by JohnFen (1641097)

      The problem is that we're picking sides between two states that each engage in racism, murder, breaking of international laws and treaties, and other assorted evil. To single out one over is stupid and unconscionable.

      • The problem is that we're picking sides between two states that each engage in racism, murder, breaking of international laws and treaties, and other assorted evil.

        But enough about Palestine and Iran...

    • by rbrander (73222) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @06:21PM (#37913448) Homepage

      There's an argument to be made for creating an organization with high moral standards that does not let those with low standards in. I've heard of the "League of Democracies" and so forth for decades.

      The United Nations, however, is NOT such an organization. Membership does not recognize that you are moral or democratic, or anything else. It recognizes that certain entities must be dealt with as the government of a certain area/people because the only other way to deal with that area/people is to have a war with said "government" that would be able to muster a fair number of those people to come out and fight you. (Iraq simultaneously was this horrible dictatorship AND had "the worlds fourth-largest army") And the U.N. was chartered to avoid war itself.

      It's not so much a "club" you pass a test to join, it's a meeting ground where you go to meet with people you have to meet with, however many showers you want to take afterwards. The only sense it's a "club" is they exclude organizations (insurgents in the hills, typically) that may call themselves the "government in exile", but have no real power to control an area/people. We don't like the antidemocratic government of China that bumps off far more human beings every year than Palestinian fighters could dream of doing to Israel, but we gotta.

      So don't take this as an affront; it's merely an acknowledgment that Palestinians elected them, that they have vastly more control over Palestinian behaviour and opinion and organization than Israel does, and that the opinions and needs of a couple of million people are - to put it mildly - not, in their own opinion, represented well at the UN by the Israeli delegation.

    • by flibuste (523578)
      Displacing or depriving people from basic resources, invading and killing civilians, that all sounds like terror to me. That is what Israel does to Palestine.
      Maybe they aren't "terrorizing" you?
      Now, regarding UN vs antisemitism, and all the bashing on your post is biased and has no actual valid source of reference. Your point is moot.
    • Just to be fair we the US should also pull funding for Israel. Israeli rockets and machine guns have killed far to many innocent civilians for my tastes. I'll also criticize the US for too much "collateral" damage.

      Hamas is not Palestine. You want Hamas out of Palestine, stop stealing land, killing bystanders and destroying schools and the Palestinians will kick Hamas out themselves. Violence begets violence.

  • Please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:04PM (#37912372) Homepage

    Please grant Palestine full membership in WIPO, preferably yesterday.

    • Apparently, they already did, according to this article [aljazeera.net]:

      Moreover, membership in UNESCO normally translates into automatic membership in several other UN agencies, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), as a result of reciprocity agreements between them.

      Also, this:

      Given the margin of Monday's vote, moreover, it looks almost certain that the Palestinians will be admitted to other specialised agencies, including some, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that are important for US national security, according to Wirth and other analysts.

  • When did we go from "America the Beautiful" to "America the Butthurt"?

    That is beside the point that we didn't need to be funding UNESCO in the first place, but to leave over something like this is just stupid. If you are going to leave, leave on principle, and leave all these unconstitutional organizations while you are at it. Withdraw from all the countries where we are not bound by treaty to be, and renegotiate the treaties binding our forces to those remaining nations as soon as possible. We can tr
  • Sound strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChaoticCoyote (195677) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:24PM (#37912686) Homepage

    The Palestinians are hoisting the U.S by it's own petard. The U.S. government passed the 1994 law as a "do what we say or else" measure, under the false belief that this would force the UN to follow U.S. policy. Instead, the Palestinians are being admitted to UN agencies anway, and we're cutting our own throat automatically.

    It's not the Palestinians who should be worried.

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Tuesday November 01, 2011 @05:55PM (#37913092)

    Under the Symington Amendment, we're not allowed to give aide to nuclear nations who won't sign onto the NTP. They get around the legality of it, with a don't ask, don't tell policy. But everyone knows Israel has nukes, so it really is a flagrant violation of US law.

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