Trump’s Unesco Withdrawal Undermines US Cultural Role, Met Says

The decision by the United States to withdraw from the UN’s world heritage body Unesco has provoked anger from New York’s Metropolitan Museum.The US said that it was formally withdrawing its membership of the organization, citing mounting arrears, “continuing anti-Israel bias” and a “need for fundamental reform in the organization.” The U.S. plans to become a non-member observer state, in a decision taking effect at the end of 2018. Its move was followed by Israel.Unesco is in the process of selecting a new Director General and its current chief, Irena Bokova, said in a statement that she expressed “profound regret” at President Donald Trump’s widely forecast move.A statement from Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met, said: “One of our most important responsibilities as museum leaders is to protect cultural heritage and promote international education. For more than half a century The Met and countless other museums have successfully partnered with Unesco, an organization that has earned the respect of nations and communities worldwide for bringing together curators, conservators, and a range of other scholars to educate, preserve, protect, and support the intellectual and artistic traditions of our shared cultural heritage. President Trump’s decision… undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation. Although Unesco may be an imperfect organization, it has been an important leader and steadfast partner.”The decision is not expected to affect the status of Unesco heritage sites in the US. The country pulled out of Unesco in 1984, with President Ronald Reagan saying that the organization was biased in favor of the USSR.Some Republicans strongly supported the latest move, saying the US was already overpaying. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, said Unesco’s “extreme politicization” was “a chronic embarrassment”.Among Democrats, Representative Pramila Jayapal tweeted that the decision proved that “culture, history, world heritage isn’t important to him [Trump], even if it is to Americans & world.” 

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