Should the United States Re-Join UNESCO?

International Education Webinar

Should the United States Re-Join UNESCO?

Experts address the challenges and opportunities associated with American re-entry into the global education organization

Featuring:

Kristen Cordell, Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Jared Genser, Managing Director, Perseus Strategies LLC
Crystal Nix-Hines, Partner, Quinn Emanuel LLP and Former United States Ambassador to UNESCO
James H. Williams, Professor of International Education and UNESCO Chair in International Education for Development, the George Washington University

The Biden administration’s public pronouncements about the importance of multi-lateralism has many observers wondering about the prospect of the United States re-joining UNESCO. The United States withdrew from the intergovernmental organization in 2019, but had stopped paying dues in 2011 when UNESCO admitted Palestine. The suspension of payments—more than a fifth of the organization’s revenues—was a serious blow. By the time the United States officially left, the country was nearly $600 million in arrears. The funding dearth has impeded UNESCO’s effectiveness, contributing to hiring freezes and program cuts.

American proponents of UNESCO are eager to see the country return to the organization it helped to establish in 1945. But such optimism belies significant hurdles. Beyond the Palestinian issue, American officials have alleged corruption and mismanagement in the past. Meanwhile, UNESCO members may not be immediately eager to re-welcome a country member that has twice withdrawn. The U.S. left for the first time in 1984 and only re-joined in 2002.

In this expert panel, scholars and practitioners will discuss the merits of re-joining UNESCO and explore the extent to which a Biden administration represents a window of opportunity for re-committing the United States to UNESCO membership.

Hosted by Dr. Kyle Long, Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Education and UNESCO Co-Chair in International Education for Development, the George Washington University