Outrage in Turtle Bay

UNESCO declines to remove Syria from human rights committee

March 8, 2012

A United Nations body that came to prominence for unilaterally accepting the "State of Palestine" as a member has declined to remove Syria as a member of its human rights committee, despite that government’s continued slaughter of its citizens.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was expected earlier today to banish Syria from its ranks as a result of that country’s bloody crackdown on citizen protestors. Instead, the body merely voted 35-8  to condemn the ongoing violence.

U.S. officials chastised UNESCO for failing to condemn the Syrian dictator.

The U.S. "is profoundly disappointed that this resolution does not call for outright removal" of Syria, Ambassador David Killion said in a statement. "It is not clear how Syria can contribute to the work of the committee.  We hope that UNESCO will revisit Syria’s membership following the UNESCO's Director General’s report on Syria."

One senior congressional staffer called UNESCO’s vote "an absolute outrage," and demanded that the Obama administration get tough with UNESCO, which has repeatedly bucked both U.S. policy and international law in its separate dealings with the Palestinians.

"Unless this issue is revisited and rectified immediately, the president should recall Ambassador Killion and withdraw the United States from UNESCO, hopefully taking many allies with us," said the Hill source.

UNESCO caused an international firestorm last year when it accepted Palestine as a member, despite the fact that Palestine is neither a state nor a full member of the U.N.

The Obama administration, however, is reportedly trying to resume U.S. funding of the body; numerous members of Congress have said that they will oppose reinstatement of funding.