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."
Istanbul, one of the most beautiful cities in the world attracts millions of visitors each year - its silhouette with the magnificent Hagia Sophia and Topkapi as well as the grand Sultanahmet mosque has marked its place as a must visit city on countless bucket lists.
Four million Africans were brought to Brazil as slaves but only Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua wrote down his story – in English as a free man in Canada
Recent excavations show that a prehistoric stone monument that went unnoticed for centuries in a bare of field on the Golan Heights is old as Stonehenge in England.
Thailands annual bird singing contest where competitors pitch their singing birds against other has drawn thousands of people to the unique competition
Matrakci Nasuh was 16th century intellectual, soldier during the Sultan Suleymans rule.
A Palestinian artist Shadi Alzaqouq was ordered to leave after after placing a bed sheet over his work advocating the boycott of Israel protesting the illegal occupation.
Cave of Arts works to connect new generation with old by collecting past and presenting it in an elegant way, says owner
A new exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy, which opened April 20 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, brings together some 200 of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections.
Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow smuggled artwork by a Palestinian artist when she was unable to get a permit to leave Gaza.
The singer was "banned by his own" after giving a performance in Nazareth, Occupied Palestine. Iran does not recognise Israel and artists who perform there become "persona non grata" in Iran.
Launched in 2004, MuslimFest showcases the talents of local and international Muslim artists with comedy shows, concerts and a childrens carnival
Accidental find reveals two-foil manuscript dating back 1,370 years, to founding years of Islam
Yusuf Islam, the world famous musician formerly known as Cat Stevens has penned a beautiful instrumental piece in honor of the victims of Srebrenica.
Greg Constantine, a self taught award-winning photographer has an exhibition in Istanbul on the Rohingya Muslims, hoping to provide a better understanding of plight of Southeast Asia’s stateless Muslim group
The Courtauld Institute of Art Summer School in London will present a wide-ranging course on 14th–19th- century Ottoman art and architecture as part of its annual Summer School in art history.