United States Withdraw From UNESCO Citing 'Anti-Israeli Bias'

In a statement published Thursday, October 12, spokesperson for the State Department Heather Nauert announced the United States' decision to leave the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Explaining that the move "was not made lightly," Nauert pointed the finger at UNESCO's so-called "continuing anti-Israeli bias," as well as a "need for fundamental reform."

(Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC)

The withdrawal will, however, only take effect on December 31, 2018, and the statement specifies that the US will remain a non-member observer state. 

This is not the first time the country has left the organization, first bowing out back in 1984. George W. Bush rejoined in 2002 but the US withdrew funding – around 22% of the organization's funding total –  a decade later when Palestine was admitted as a state member. 

UNESCO's director general Irina Bokova has reacted to the news, expressing "profound regret" at what she calls a "huge loss" for the United Nations family and multilateralism.