The U.S. decision to pull out of UNESCO followed failed efforts to reform the agency. While UNESCO’s mission to promote education, science and culture is noble, the agency has become hijacked by dictatorships. Following are a few examples.
- Anti-Israeli Obsession: Between 2009-2014, UNESCO adopted 46 resolutions against Israel; 1 on Syria; and none on Iran, Sudan, North Korea, or any other country in the world. See here and here. Betraying its mission to protect world heritage and culture, UNESCO repeatedly denies the ancient Jewish heritage and culture of the holy cities Jerusalem and Hebron, which was this year declared a World Heritage site of “Palestine.”
- Electing Syria’s Assad to Human Rights Committee: In 2011, UNESCO elected Syria’s Assad regime to its human rights committee. When UN Watch exposed the outrage and launched a protest campaign, the U.S. and UK were embarrassed and tried to remove Syria — but failed to get enough votes to do so.
- Glorifying Violence: In 2013, UNESCO enshrined “The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara” in its “Memory of the World Register” —even though Che Guevara led the first firing squads of the Cuban Revolution, and founded Cuba’s “labor camp” system that would later be used to incarcerate gays, dissidents and AIDS victims. President Obama’s representative demanded that UNESCO’s program not “not be used as a tool to glorify or legitimize violence.” His objection was ignored.
- Naming Prizes for Dictators: UNESCO created a $3 million prize in 2008 named for and funded by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the brutal and corrupt dictator of Equitorial Guinea. His state radio announced that Obiang “can decide to kill” without anyone calling him to account because he is in “permanent contact” with God, “who gives him this strength.” In addition, UNESCO created an education prize in the name of, and sponsored by, the despot of Bahrain — the “King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize.”
- “World Philosophy Day” in Tehran: In a 2010 address, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova spoke of her efforts over two years to sponsor a “Philosophy Day” in Tehran — despite Iran’s horrific record of repression and censorship after the fraudulent elections of 2009. Absurdly, Bokova said “I hope this will be a major opportunity for free intellectual debates around the topics.” Eventually UNESCO was forced to cancel the event.