UNESCO halts new spending after US funding cut


United Nations cultural agency UNESCO has been forced to suspend new spending programmes until the end of the year after the United States withdrew its funding, its director general said Thursday.
In an address to UNESCO diplomats, Irina Bokova said the agency faces a $65 million (47 million euro) funding shortfall and would not make new spending commitments, following a row with Washington over Palestinian membership.
“This deficit corresponds to the sum due from the United States for the year 2011. The United States have a habit of paying their contribution at the end of the year for reasons of their own budget caledar,” she said.
“We will not receive this sum. We will therefore have to take radical measures, and we will need to take them now, at this general conference.
“I have suspended the entirety of our undertakings. I have suspended the execution of our programmes, during our review process, until the end of the year,” she explained, promising her office would review the entire budget. Clarifying her statement, UNESCO officials said the cuts would principally hit new undertakings and ongoing running costs such as staff travel, publications and communications. US funding accounts for 22 percent of the UNESCO budget. The Palestinians have also asked the UN Security Council for recognition, but the request is still being examined and Washington is all but sure to veto it.