So far, the Trump administration has ended US support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, threatened to stop funding NATO and the UN, and announced its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Now the US has formally withdrawn from another global arrangement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.
The reason? Because the administration thinks that UNESCO has an anti-Israel bias for recognizing a cultural site in the West Bank as part of Palestinian heritage and for admitting Palestine as a full member in 2011.
The State Department also cited “the need for fundamental reform.”
The US initially distanced itself from UNESCO under the Obama administration for perceived anti-Israel sentiments and cut all funding for the program.
But this latest step means that the US has fully withdrawn from the organization.
Here’s why that’s a big deal.
1/ UNESCO Protects and Promotes the Best Parts of Global Culture
Belgian beer, Indian Yoga, Chinese calligraphy, French gastronomy, the Mediterranean diet, Spanish flamenco — these are localized cultural practices that went on to captivate the world.
By recognizing these and other things as “intangible” human achievements UNESCO campaigns to ensure their cultural integrity.
2/ UNESCO Protects the Best Architectural Achievements
UNESCO recognizes these architectural achievements and campaigns to protect them. When the Pyramids in Egypt were threatened by a proposed highway, for example, UNESCO intervened to stop the route.
This is one of the reasons why UNESCO is ardently anti-war, because when conflict breaks out, architecture is usually destroyed and damaged, as happened when ISIS overran the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. Flickr/sandeepachetan.com