World Bulletin / News Desk
UNESCO is in its "worst ever financial situation" after its biggest contributor the United States froze funding last year, the director general of the United Nations' cultural agency said on Thursday.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation was plunged into crisis in October 2011 when Washington, an ally of Israel, cancelled its grant in protest at the body's decision to grant the Palestinians full membership.
THe U.N. body had been forced to slash spending, freeze job hires and cut programmes after losing the U.S. funding, which had made up 22 percent of its budget, UNESCO's Irina Bokova told reporters.
The organisation, which designates World Heritage sites, promotes global education and supports press freedom among other tasks, had started the year with a deficit of $150 million out of $653 million for its budget over 2012 and 2013, Bokova said.
"It's crippling our capacity to deliver," she added.
"We are coping in very difficult circumstances. We're fundraising this year, but it's not sustainable on a long-term basis. We're not closing UNESCO, but member states will have to rethink the way forward. UNESCO will be crippled."
As a result of the vote on the Palestinians, the U.S. administration, which pays its dues at the end of the year, immediately withdrew its funding to the Paris-based agency.
Among projects to be hit by the change in U.S. policy were a Holocaust education programme that is linked to wider campaigns on human rights and genocide and a Tsunami research project, both of which had been directly financed by Washington.
Bokova said it was in U.S. interests to be part of UNESCO and hoped Washington would review its position before next year when it would be stripped of voting rights for not paying its dues.
"There is money in the world, but it's not just about money," Bokova said. "We need the United States to formulate common policies and to debate common values."
Bokova, who took her post three years ago, said the deep cuts UNESCO had been obliged to make were affecting the way it did business. It did not replace 336 jobs amounting to about 15 percent of its total workforce, cancelled projects and slashed expenses.
To compensate for the shortfall, UNESCO created an emergency fund to obtain cash, primarily from other members, that is allocated to projects as it wishes.
The 60-year old former Bulgarian foreign minister said she had managed to raise $69 million, including $20 million each from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as smaller donations from countries including Turkey, Indonesia and Algeria.
It has also received specific project funding from countries that have particular interests in certain fields. On Thursday it is due to sign a $20 million agreement with Norway for education and sustainable development programmes.
"It fills gaps, but not in the long-run. We need a predictable budget," she said. "I think UNESCO was caught in between the political turmoil of the Middle Eastern conflict. I think it's unfair."
Direcor Steven Spielberg was talking to Holocaust survivors in the southern Polish city of Krakow
Cafcaf magazine responds to Hebdo in the same language, saying that nothing will be forgiven by those who have been oppressed and blood still being spilt.
One of Asia's largest photo festivals aims to rebalance image of the developing world
Political complications in the Ottoman Empire made way for new power centres with Ottoman soldiers at their head.
Painters in Lok Virsa street reflect the daily life and culturel beauties of Pakistan in their paintings.
After decades of conflict, Afghans poets are finding their inspiration in their collective hope for peace.
Istanbul night owls are travelling tens of kilometers to use the city's first all-night library which houses more than half million publications.
The 'Lamentoso for Srebrenica' will be played across 5 continents
The urban renewal works near Nevsehir Castle in Nevsehir province in central Turkey have revealed one of the biggest underground cities in the world
With Senegals capital city Dakar being the most Western point of Africa, it has become a focal point for business and the face of modern Africa, drawing attention to its architecture, and cultural art heritage.
Turkish enthusiasts of the world’s self-proclaimed 'easiest' language – Esperanto – tell their stories
Balkan medieval tombstones dating from the 12th century have been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO's World Heritage list
It has been recently discovered that there have been dozens of newspaper printed to distribute to Ottoman soldiers that were captured prisoners in the First World War to keep up their morale.
Historical doors that date back to the Ottoman Empire are being used in five star hotels and used as decorative pieces in homes.
Prince Mehmet Orhan Osmanoglu was grandson of Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey has bought back many mosques that have been closed after a law passed in 1935 giving permission for sales and over the past 12 years have restored over 4,000 historic buildings including mosques, prayer halls, hostels and public baths.