WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, after years of the United States distancing itself because of what it saw as the group’s “anti-Israel bias.”
“This decision was not taken lightly,” according to a State Department statement on Thursday. The department also cited “the need for fundamental reform” and “mounting arrears” at the organization.
While the United States withdrew from the group, the Trump administration said it wanted to continue to be engaged with UNESCO to provide U.S. perspective and expertise, but as a nonmember observer. The U.S. withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018.
UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization known for its designation of world heritage sites, is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.