A superpower that has pretty much governed international relations, arm-twisted its way into deals and bullied obstinate nations is now throwing a tantrum for an ally nation. The United States on Thursday announced its withdrawal from UNESCO over what it claims is the organization’s ‘continuing anti-Israel bias’ – a move followed by Israel itself.
This move which could most aptly be explained as muscle flexing is bound to create a ruffle amidst other member nations. “This decision was not taken lightly,” state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in a statement, “and it reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.”
The statement seems laughable since the work and posture of the US of Trump’s government isn’t quite what you could call reformist or even ethical. The country’s withdrawal marks yet another move by the Trump administration to distance itself from global organizations. Apart from that the withdrawal also had the added implication of supporting an ally nation – so the move wasn’t completely torn apart by the media.
UNESCO which has a lesser grip on international relations works around education, awareness and social issues. The organization is relatively toothless when compared to its big brother, the UN Security Council. Its prominent function is designating and protecting official international landmarks, called World Heritage Sites which in turn provoked the ire of USA.
That said, UNESCO’s activities make it a natural venue for countries to engage in ideological grandstanding and symbolic albeit useless protest votes without actually causing too much chaos in the international system.
With USA’s exodus from Paris, TPP, UNESCO and threats to KORUS, NAFTA, and Iran Deal, major organizations around the world would feel a pinch in their pockets and would lose the needed gravitas in international policies.
As for UNESCO, the organization might now lean towards non-western nations – creating a separate, more powerful bloc. That said UNESCO would in fact suffer from an abrupt funding crunch as more nations might follow US’s suit.