United States Cuts off Funding to UNESCO

Posted on November 28, 2011


Longstanding American legislation took effect last month cutting off funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when the latter voted to give full membership to the Palestinians. The legislation provided for immediate cessation of financial aid to any organization that approved Palestine as a full member.  The US provides 22% of the total budget (around $80 million) to all United Nations agencies.

The main programs affected by this cut off of funds are work with the Iraqi National Water Council and literacy training and education in Iraq.  Afghanistan may also be affected, but less so because the funding in Afghanistan is paid mostly by other countries, with Japan being a large contributor.  The cut off will severely effect the US’ mission to help rebuild Iraq because UNESCO’s assistance depended heavily on American funding.

UNESCO has frozen all new spending and hiring and begun cancelling contracts with outside consultants, effective at the end of 2011.  These cuts should save UNESCO about $35 million a year, although this is not even half of what was provided by the US prior to the cut off of funding.

See how member countries voted for/against Palestinian membership in UNESCO.

Read the full article at the NY Times: Cutting off UNESCO, US May endanger programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thanks to Kristina Bauer for her assistance with this post.