UNESCO Creates Fund For Budget Shortfall After US Withholds Dues

By William New, Intellectual Property Watch

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has set up a fund for donations to support core activities after the United States withheld its dues equalling nearly a quarter of UNESCO’s budget. Already the agency has begun cutting programmes in developing countries, it said.

Bokova said cuts in funding “will affect the agency’s ability to carry out crucial programmes in education, support for emerging democracies and the fight against religious extremism,” according to UNECSO, which is also the agency responsible for the World Heritage Sites.

The online donation tool is here.

The plan was announced on 10 November by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, in a speech to the UNESCO General Conference. The United States suspended its 2011 dues, some $65 million, after a majority of UNESCO member states voted to admit Palestine as a full member (IPW, United Nations, 31 October 2011).

“UNESCO is facing a difficult situation,” Bokova told the agency’s highest ruling body, meeting in Paris. “It’s a test for our organisation.”

“This is not simply another extra-budgetary fund,” she said. “It will be directed to supporting our core activities, so that they are not affected by a difficult financial situation.” Bokova urged members to pay their 2012 dues early, among other urgent measures.

The fund is open to member states, public institutions, foundations and individuals. Gabon immediately announced a $2 million donation, UNESCO said.

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