Bokova Starts Fundraising for UNESCO after 'Palestinian Crisis'

World | November 5, 2011, Saturday // 13:44
Bulgaria: Bokova Starts Fundraising for UNESCO after 'Palestinian Crisis' UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (left) pictured here with Argentina`s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. EPA/BGNES

The UN Organization for Education, Science, and Culture is starting a fundraising campaign to make up for the funding it lost after its members voted to accept the Palestinian Authority, announced UNESCO's Bulgarian Director-General Irina Bokova.

Bokova, who has been in a tough spot after the USA terminated its contribution to the UNESCO budget after Palestine got in earlier this week, announced the fundraising effort in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio Saturday.

In addition to trying to "compensate" for the withdrawal of the US funding, which is about 20% of UNESCO's total annual budget, or some USD 70 M, Bokova said, adding that "some governments and states are giving positive signals that they would support the organization financially."

"Of course, the logic of this support with non-budget funds is more different than the funding through the regular budget, and this could help us in the short term but not in the long term. But that is still something that we are going to do. We are considering such a [fundrasing] campaign. We will probably launch it shortly. At the moment we are conducting consultations with many countries in order to figure out the best way to make use of such support," Bokova explained on Saturday.

She further expressed her hopes that the reduced budget of UNESCO will not jeopardize the programs of the UN agency, especially their tsunami early warning system in the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.

Earlier this week, Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian Director-General of UNESCO, pleaded with the USA to reinstate funding for the UN agency for education, science and culture, after the Palestinian Authority was granted membership by its General Assembly.

UNESCO has ended up in an international diplomatic crisis after on Monday the majority of its members voted in favor of admitting Palestine as a full-fledged member even though the latter has not been recognized internationally as an independence country.

The admission of Palestine to UNESCO led to harsh reactions by Israel and by the USA, which terminated its annual funding for the world organization based on two laws from 1991 and 1994 that stipulate the cutoff of US money for any organization that might grant full membership to territories that are not internationally recognized as states such as the PA.

Meanwhile, Canada said it was mulling quitting UNESCO because of the controversy with Palestine's accession.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova warned in a statement Wednesday that the move jeopardizes programs "in America's core interests," such as those fostering a free media in nascent Mideast democracies.

She said that without US support, "it will be impossible for us to maintain our current level of activity."

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Tags: canada, unseco, Palestine, US, funding, United Nations, Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General, Director-General, Israel, Palestinian Authority, USA, funding
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