Friday, October 28, 2011

"Will Congress’s defunding of the U.N. over Palestine hurt U.S. goals around the world?"

Colum Lynch has an article by that title dated October 25, 2011 in Foreign Policy magazine. It discusses the repercussions if the Palestinian Authority bid to join UNESCO succeeds and the United States withholds funding from the organization as the law requires. The problem is exacerbated because it might start a chain reaction in which Palestine is automatically admitted to other decentralized agencies of the UN system which would apparently mean that the United States would automatically withhold funding also from those agencies.
The Palestinians are expected to follow by seeking membership in three other U.N. organizations -- the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) -- that have reciprocation agreements that would allow UNESCO members in as full members. Consequently, the United States will be required to also cut funding to these agencies, jeopardizing funding to programs that protect international intellectual copy rights and promote trade in the developing world. 
A congressional cut off of aid at UNESCO and other U.N. specialized agencies, however, would have no effect on many of the U.N.'s most high-profile operations, including billions of dollars spent on U.N. peacekeeping and humanitarian relief work -- since any bid by the Palestinians to secure membership in the U.N. General Assembly would face a U.S. veto. 
But the Palestinians have made it clear that they intend to seek membership in other international agencies affiliated with the United Nations, including the International Criminal Court, which receives no funding from the United States, and the World Health Organization, which has played a lead role in preventing the spread of deadly and debilitating diseases like polio, malaria, small pox and avian flu and HIV/AIDS.

The Palestinians would also have a good shot at gaining entrance into several other U.N. specialized agencies, including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which require simple majorities or two-thirds majorities votes by the agencies' member states for membership. Ironically, the $238 million annual U.S. funding for the largest U.N. program in support of Palestinians, the U.N. Relief Works Agency, will not be directly affected by the UNESCO bid since it's not a U.N. member-based organization.
The Executive Board of UNESCO recommended that Palestine be admitted to UNESCO membership earlier this month, and the General Conference is expected to vote on the membership on Monday afternoon. It has been reported that there are very active discussions taking place in diplomatic circles and between the State Department and the Congress.

The article goes on to provide opinions from a number of knowledgeable source. Read more.....

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