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NEWS: Baird ‘not happy’ with UNESCO vote on Palestine

Agence France Presse reports, “Canada is ‘not happy’ with the vote to grant UNESCO membership to the Palestinians and will reconsider its participation in the UN cultural body, Foreign Minister John Baird said Monday. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Monday adopted a resolution to admit Palestine, with 107 countries voting in favor, 14 including the United States and Canada voting against, and 52 abstaining. ‘We are not happy with UNESCO’s decision. We are working to determine what our response will be,’ Baird told reporters. ‘We are in the process of evaluating our future participation’ in UNESCO, he added…”

The stated purpose of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the United Nations Charter. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; the preserving of world heritage sites; regional and cultural history projects; and to preserve human rights.

UNESCO also funds the International Hydrological Programme, a scientific programme that focuses on the use and availability of water.

Baird’s comments imply Canada may withdraw its annual $12 million contribution to UNESCO. The United States has already announced it will withdraw a $60 million contribution to UNESCO as a result of the vote to grant UNESCO membership to Palestine.

The Gaza Strip is one of the territorial units forming the Palestinian territories. At our annual general meeting in Montreal on October 23, the Council of Canadians passed a resolution resolving that the Council of Canadians: support the Canadian Boat to Gaza to end the illegal blockade of Gaza; call on the Government of Canada, the United Nations and the international community to do everything in their power to ensure the safe passage of the Canadian Boat to Gaza and the safety of all those aboard; call for an end to the blockade of Gaza, in accordance with international law.