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13 October 2017, 12:22 | Terri Saunders
Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu the Vietnamese candidate for the position of UNESCO Director-General. — VNA VNS
The United States and Israel announced on Thursday they were quitting the U.N.'s cultural agency UNESCO, after Washington accused it of anti-Israeli bias.
Pursuant to Article II (6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018.
The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign. In addition to designating World Heritage sites, the organization's 1970 Convention was the first global instrument dedicated to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property.
Phạm Sanh Châu, Vietnamese candidate for the director-general position of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), made a decision to withdraw his name prior to the third round of voting on Wednesday.
"Universality is critical to UNESCO's mission to strengthen worldwide peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity", she added, noting that UNESCO would continue to build a more just, peaceful, equitable 21st century.
Washington has also protested against UNESCO's decision to grant full membership to Palestine, deciding to suspend regular payments to the organization in 2011.
The lack of staffing and funding plans for Unesco by the USA have been accompanied by repeated denunciations of Unesco by senior U.S. officials, including U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
The decision follows a string of UNESCO decisions that have drawn criticism from the U.S. and Israel.
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In a statement released via her official Twitter handle, Bokova called the withdrawal "a loss to UNESCO".
The agency is in the process of choosing a new leader, with Qatari and French former ministers Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari and Audrey Azoulay neck-and-neck in the contest to replace Ms Bokova.
UNESCO's executive board plans to select her successor Friday in a secret ballot.
She argued that Unesco is "so relevant to the political agenda of the American government it's incredible", citing its work on trying to prevent violent extremism through educational and cultural programs in the developing world. "Partnership between UNESCO and the United States was so deep and strong because it was based on shared values", she said.
Ms Bokova defended Unesco's reputation, noting its efforts to support Holocaust education and train teachers to fight anti-Semitism. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
"Today is a new day at the U.N., where there is price to pay for discrimination against Israel", Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said.
In July, the agency again delighted Palestinians when its members declared the Old City of Hebron in the occupied West Bank an endangered World Heritage site - described as "another delusional decision" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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