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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Canada stops new funding for UNESCO

From the Montreal Gazette:
In the wake of a vote by UNESCO to allow Palestinians a seat at the table, Canada's federal government said it will not be giving any additional money to the UN body.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters Tuesday the government would not be offering further "voluntary" payments to the United Nations' cultural arm.

Baird said Canada would continue its funding at current levels, but will not add new payments.

Canada provides almost $12 million annually to UNESCO.

"Under no circumstances will Canada cover the budgeting shortfall as a result of this decision and Canada has decided to freeze all further voluntary contributions to UNESCO," Baird said.

The shortfall Baird referred to is in reference to U.S. law that immediately cuts off funding to any UN body that accepts Palestinians as full members. U.S. money makes up about 22 per cent of UNESCO's annual budget.

The minister said the government needed to send a message to UNESCO that it was not happy with the body's decision to include the Palestinians.

"The bottom line is there's going to be a large hole in UNESCO's budget because of the American law which withdraws funding and people at UNESCO should not look to Canada to fill that budget hole," he said. "They'll have to go to the countries who supported this resolution, that caused this budget loophole."
It is sort of a symbolic move but, hey, so is the entire idea that of the PLO being a member of UNESCO to begin with.

By the way, here is a list of the 14 countries that voted "no" for "Palestine" to be a member of UNESCO:

Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, US, Vanuatu.