UNESCO Confirms Palestinian Statehood - October 31
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) confirmed Palestinian membership in its organization Monday by an election of 107 votes in favor and 14 against, with 52 abstentions. UNESCO is a United Nations (UN) agency that works to develop conversation and cooperation across cultural, economic, and social divides. Ultimately, UNESCO hopes to aid the UN’s realization of the Millennium Development Goals through diplomatic cooperation and competency in educational, scientific, and cultural collaboration.
In a speech made at the UNESCO headquarters, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Riad al-Malki, praised the results. Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Malki stated, “This vote will help erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people.” Palestinian leaders view UNESCO’s decision as a pivotal step in obtaining Palestinian statehood and UN membership, though UNESCO itself is not a UN body.
Palestinian Statehood and UN-Membership
Palestinian statehood and UN-membership was one of the pivotal topics of debate during the United Nations General Assembly debate this past September, as world leaders gathered to discuss the prospects for diplomatic relations. Because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has enwrapped the world, many countries have based their political stances on the issue. Supporters of Israel argue that Palestinian membership would only heighten its threat against the Israeli state, whereas Palestinian supports claim that Palestine deserves equal representation in international bodies. These divided camps have entered a deadlock over Palestine’s acceptance into the United Nations as a permanent member.
Consequently, the decision to incorporate Palestine will cost UNESCO one-quarter of its budget. Prior to the UNESCO elections, the United States warned that it would cease to provide funding for the organization. As the United States is UNESCO’s primary funder, contributing 22% of the organization’s budget (about $70 million), this withdrawal will have a significant impact on UNESCO. Despite these warnings, UNESCO has elected Palestine to its organization. In turn, the US has halted all funding going towards UNESCO.