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US wins approval to rejoin UNESCO

China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-01 09:41

The 193 member states of the United Nation's Scientific, Educational, and Cultural Organization voted on Friday to approve the proposal submitted by the US to rejoin the organization at an Extraordinary Session of the General Conference.

During the two-day meeting, member states voted by a large majority on Friday afternoon to adopt the US proposal to return to the UNESCO in July, with 132 voting in favor, 10 against and 15 abstaining.

The US will fund the equivalent of 22 percent of the organization's regular budget, according to UNESCO press release. In addition to progressive payment of its arrears, estimated at $619 million, the US will also make voluntary contributions, as of 2023, to fund programs including those supporting access to education in Africa and the memory of the Holocaust. The UNESCO's annual operating budget is $534 million.

"All the conditions are now met for a full return of the United States to UNESCO in July," said the press release.

Yang Jin, permanent representative of China to UNESCO, said during the session that upon its return, the US should contribute to promoting solidarity and cooperation within the agency, rather than creating confrontation and division.

"The aim of rejoining is not about provoking confrontation or resisting the influence of one country. I think it's simple and clear," Yang said.

Speaking to media after voting, Yang also called on the US to adhere to true multilateralism, respect the sovereignty and social systems of all countries, respect and maintain social diversity, refrain from ideological confrontation, and commit to promoting mutual understanding and cooperation among member states, Xinhua reported.

The US withdrew from the UNESCO twice, in 1984 and 2017. In 2011, the Obama administration stopped financing agency after it voted to include Palestine as a member state.

The US sent a letter to Director-General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay on June 8 to propose to rejoin the agency as early as July on the basis of a concrete financial plan, which includes a commitment to repay its estimated arrears.

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