UNESCO votes to admit Palestine as full member

On 31 October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted for the Admission of Palestine as full member of the Paris-based agency. The decision was taken with 107 votes in favour, 14 against and 52 absentees, raising the current number of Member States to 195.

Included among the black-balls votes were that of both the United States and Israel. In an interview the General-Director of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, expressed her concerns for the Organization’s future: in fact, one of the major UNESCO’s contributors is the United States and this decision could weaken the budgets of the Organization. Ms Bokova remarked: “I am worried we may confront a situation that could erode UNESCO as a universal platform for dialogue. I am worried for the stability of its budget”. “It is well-known that funding from our largest contributor, the United States, may be jeopardized”, she added. Having noticed this news the UN General-Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, recognized the need for a practical solution to preserve the financial stability of the organization. He also emphasized, once again, the urgency of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Another problem that could arise concerns the effectiveness of Palestinian membership to UNESCO, established through the signature and ratification of UNESCO’s Constitution. This process becomes more complex for a non-member of United Nations. Palestinian admission to UNESCO requires a recommendation by the agency’s Executive Board and a two-thirds majority vote in favour from the General Conference.
The General Conference, which meets every two years, gathers UNESCO Member States, together with associate members, observers from non-member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Its task consists of defining the agenda and monitoring the budget of UNESCO. On 25th October, the 36th Session of General Conference opened and it will run to the 10th November. Therefore, Palestinian admission to UNESCO is still a process that is ongoing that depending on the geo-political evolution of international affairs.