In defense of the UN’s “rogue agency” — letters from the U.S. ambassador, and others, with a reply by Joseph A. Harriss.
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Ambassador Killion argues, as anyone in his position must, that engagement in such an organization is the only way to influence it. The unfortunate reality is that most of the time, it’s a losing game for the U.S., as the vote on Palestine admission and the corruption of the World Heritage Convention decisively demonstrate.
His argument that UNESCO has programs that promote democracy fails to pass the test of results. UNESCO, as I have pointed out in the article, has many high-flown programs with impressive names, and indeed programs within programs. The problem, as the thoroughgoing British evaluation last year says, is showing convincing results. I see very few, as do the British.
Yes, there is the promise to review the disastrous decision to include Syria on the committee that treats human rights. Nice try again, Ambassador, but Syria’s appointment to that committee would never have happened if UNESCO were not dysfunctional. The whole episode illustrates its systemic failure.
Lastly, Ambassador Killion argues with some heat the need of American participation and engagement to keep UNESCO from becoming a rogue agency. Dear Ambassador, it is already a rogue agency, as anyone who reads my article can see. The U.S. can do nothing useful about that except to make the ultimate protest of withdrawing. History shows that only that will concentrate UNESCO’s collective mind on the root and branch reform that could make it, once again, a worthwhile enterprise worthy of American support.