Explanation of Vote for Middle East Items

The United States takes the floor to explain our “No” vote and express our profound disappointment in the renewed politicization of these agenda items.  We understand these are difficult issues – but the harsh nature of these resolutions only distracts from the positive work of UNESCO; it belies the founding principles of this organization and undermines the credibility of this Body and its mandate to foster peace and to promote innovative global cooperation through education, science and culture.

We strongly encourage members of the Executive Board to think seriously about the impact of political resolutions of this nature.  We should reject symbolic resolutions that divide rather than unite us, and that undermine our effectiveness.

At a time when UNESCO is discussing the need to raise its visibility and expand public-private partnerships, this kind of unbalanced treatment of political issues diminishes the perception of UNESCO as an accommodating place to engage, and – of course – it complicates how we present the value and importance of this organization to our respective national leadership, private sector partners, and other key domestic constituencies.

We are living in a time of great turmoil in the Middle East; a time that demands brave and decisive leadership by regional leaders and the international community.  Preventing another round of violence requires leaders who are willing to make difficult choices and commit to the hard work of negotiations.  These needlessly politicized resolutions stand in direct conflict with that shared, and tremendously important, commitment.

We are encouraged by the large number of abstentions for these disappointing and counterproductive agenda items, and we hope in future sessions we can work together to shape a positive and constructive message that reimagines our approach to these important issues, and more fully and ambitiously reflects the values of UNESCO.

Thank you.