Put the U.S. Back In UNESCO!

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The United States must rejoin UNESCO to help build peace through education, the sciences and cultural diversity.


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture1.

This organization was founded during a world war marked by racist and anti-Semitic violence. Seventy years on and many liberation struggles later, cultural diversity is again under attack and new forms of intolerance, rejection of scientific facts and threats to freedom of expression challenge peace and human rights. In response, UNESCO's duty remains to reaffirm the humanist missions of education, science and culture1.

Membership in UNESCO is restricted only to those countries worthy of protecting humanity's most valuable treasures, its environment, and its culture. The United States joined UNESCO during its formation in the mid '40s. Tensions arose 40 years later, when the organization recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and later Palestine2.

As of January 1, 2019, the United States officially withdrew from UNESCO a second time. The withdrawal was first announced in October 2017 after UNESCO recognized the old city of Hebron in the West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage Site amid fierce resistance from the United States and Israel. The old city of Hebron is home to, among other relics and cultural sites, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a sacred religious site known as the Cave of Machpelah to Jews and as the Sanctuary of Abraham to Muslims. At the time, the United States and Israel complained that the UN was engaging in "anti-Israeli bias" stemming from the recognition of Palestine as a member state of the UN in 2011 3.

UNESCO places no distinction on race, sex, language, or religion, as declared by the Charter of the United Nations. The withdrawal of the U.S. would not move this spirit of equality forward, but rather hinder its progress 1.

The U.S. has asked to "remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert wrote in a statement on October 12, 20174.

Continued membership in UNESCO is a commitment to peace and security in the world through collaboration with other nations, furthering the causes of education, science, culture and communication, as well as a universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Sign the petition below and tell the Secretary of State to reinstall the United States as a fully-fledged member of UNESCO once more.

  1. UNESCO (2019), "UNESCO in brief - Mission and Mandate."
  2. Michael Greshko, National Gerographic (12 October 2017), "U.S. to Withdraw From UNESCO. Here's What That Means.."
  3. Antonio Pacheco, The Architect's Newspaper (7 January 2019), "United States withdraws from UNESCO (again)."
  4. Heather Nauert, U.S. Department of State (3 September 2020), "The United States Withdraws From UNESCO — US Department of State Press Release
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The Petition:

Dear Secretary of State,

The United States is home to 24 World Heritage Sites, each a monument to cultural diversity, education and science. Like truth and justice for all, these are inherently American principles but they have been left unprotected and under-appreciated since the U.S. left the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2019.

Continued membership in UNESCO is a commitment to peace and security in the world through collaboration with other nations, furthering the causes of education, science, culture and communication, as well as a universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is not enough for the U.S. to remain in UNESCO a non-member observer. Especially now as cultural diversity is under attack and new forms of intolerance, rejection of scientific facts and threats to freedom of expression challenge peace and human rights.

Membership in UNESCO is restricted only to those countries worthy of protecting humanity's most valuable treasures, its environment, and its culture. The United States is not only worthy, but obligated to carry this responsibility forward.

I demand that you reinstate the U.S. as a fully-fledged member of UNESCO once more.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: