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U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO

Posted October. 14, 2017 07:33,   

Updated October. 14, 2017 08:03



“Battleship Island,” the Korean movie based on a novel by Han Su-san, addresses hidden history about Koreans who were forced to labor on Hashima Island near the Japanese port of Nagasaki. Battleship Island was named as such because the island, packed with concrete buildings, looked like a battle ship, and was no better than hell to Korean slave laborers.

UNESCO most often reminds people of world heritages. However, the UN's world heritage body is on shaky ground due to issues over world heritage. Despite Korea’s opposition, Japan enlisted Battleship Island where people were forced to harsh labor to mine undersea coal as a world cultural heritage in July 2015, saying it is a heritage of modern industrial revolution. UNESCO had advised Japan to admit forced labor but the organization remained silent even if Tokyo did not follow the recommendation. Japan, which makes the second largest donation to UNESCO, frequently flexed muscle by exploiting its contributions to the organization. Japan suspended provision of its contributions to UNESCO to protest the organization’s registering of materials on Nanjing Massacre in China as Memory of the World two years ago, before putting off payment again this year. Tokyo’s move is apparently aimed at preventing UNESCO from reviewing documents on comfort women, which is sought by civic groups of eight nations for possible registration on the heritage list.

The United States, No. 1 donor to UNESCO paying more than double than Japan, officially informed the organization on Thursday that it would withdraw from the UN agency effective end of next year. Washington bolted from UNESCO by citing the agency’s alleged bias toward the Soviet Union and reckless management in 1984, and rejoined in 2002. Hence, the United States has quit the UN body for the second time. The reason Washington cites this time is that UNESCO has revealed its “anti-Israel stance,” by registering a holy site in Hebron in the West Bank as Palestine’s heritage rather than Israel’s in July. UNESCO expressed concern, by saying, “This is a loss to UNESCO. This is a loss to the United Nations family. This is a loss for multilateralism.”

The UNESCO Constitution declares in the beginning, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” UNESCO was inaugurated with the aim of co-prosperity of humanity and world peace in 1945, but it has now become a stage of fierce diplomatic battle. Since the inauguration of the Donald Trump administration that pursues “America First” doctrine, the United States is increasingly frequently dumping its lofty stature and heavy responsibility as a superpower in the multilateral diplomacy community, which discusses the common values of the humanity. It is regrettable that the United States is dismantling its carefully built trust and reputation as a leader of the global community.