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WASHINGTON, October 31 (Itar-Tass) —— The U.S. administration said it would stop financing UNESCO after its General Conference’s decision to admit Palestine to this international organisation.
Palestine’s application for UNESCO membership was approved at the 36th session of this international organisation’s General Conference in Paris on October 31.
One hundred seven member states voted in favour of admission, fourteen voted against, including the United States and Israel, with 52 abstentions.
With Palestine’s admission, the number of UNESCO members has reached 195.
For its membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify UNESCO’s Constitution that is open for signature in the archives of the Government of the United Kingdom in London.
Admission to UNESCO for states that are not members of the United Nations requires a recommendation by the Organization’s Executive Board and a two thirds majority vote in favour by the General Conference of Member States present and voting (abstentions are not considered as votes).
The General Conference consists of the representatives of the States Members of the Organisation. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member States, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Each Member State has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.
The General Conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organisation. Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the Members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General.
“The admission of a new member State is a mark of respect and confidence,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said following the vote. “This must be an opportunity to strengthen the Organization and not weaken it, a chance for all to commit once again to the values we share and not to be divided.”
Bokova voiced concern by the “potential challenges” that may arise to the universality and financial stability of UNESCO. “I am worried we may confront a situation that could erode UNESCO as a universal platform for dialogue. I am worried for the stability of its budget.
“It is well-known that funding from our largest contributor, the United States, may be jeopardised,” she noted. “I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not suffer unduly as a result...
“UNESCO’s work is too important to be jeopardized,” she stressed.
For its membership to take effect, Palestine must sign and ratify UNESCO’s constitution, which is open for signature in the archives of the Government of the United Kingdom in London.
Admission to UNESCO for States that are not members of the UN requires a recommendation by the agency’s Executive Board and a two-thirds majority vote in favour by the General Conference.
The General Conference, which consists of the representatives of the States that are members of the agency, meets every two years, and is attended by member States and associate members, together with observers for non-member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
It is tasked with setting the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General.
The current 36th session of the General Conference began on 25 October and will run through 10 November.