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  • UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

  • It is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN)

  • It has 193 member states and 12 associate members,as well as partners in the non-governmental, intergovernmental and private sector.

  • Headquartered in Paris, France.

  • UNESCO was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

  • It contributes to peace and security by promoting international cooperation in education, sciences, culture, communication and information.

  • UNESCO promotes knowledge sharing and the free flow of ideas to accelerate mutual understanding and a more perfect knowledge of each other's lives.

  • UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the SDG defined in the 2030 Agenda.

  • UNESCO has launched several initiatives and global movements, such as Education For All, to further advance its core objectives.

  • UNESCO sponsors projects that improve literacy, provide technical training and education, advance science, protect independent media and press freedom, preserve regional and cultural history, and promote cultural diversity.

  • It assists in the translation and dissemination of world literature.

  • Helps establish and secure World Heritage Sites of cultural and natural importance.

  • Works to bridge the worldwide digital divide, and creates inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication.

Reason behind exiting, re-entering of US in UNESCO

Reason for exit:

  • In 2017, the Trump administration withdrew from the organisation after the Obama administration ceased funding, in 2011.

  • U.S. and Israel have blamed UNESCO for having an anti-Israel bias like criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

  • The United States had pulled out of UNESCO in 1984 as well because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The US rejoined in 2003.

Reason for re-entering:

  • The reason for the U.S’.s return is ostensibly ‘China’.

  • The re-entry is a sign of America’s growing paranoia about China.

  • The U.S.’s absence had helped China gain “more influence” in setting the rules around artificial intelligence and the ensuing technological shifts.

  • Developments in AI are slightly different from historical technological developments. 

  • In historical technological developments, product patents and their enforcement have helped countries such as the U.S. maintain their edge.

  • But with AI, China, along with a rising repertoire of patents and research publications, has the advantages of a much larger population and a more powerful surveillance state.

  • These advantages of China, feeds into a cycle of generating greater troves of data that in turn feed and improve machine learning systems that make its AI far more formidable.

Way forward

  • Unlike other technologies, no country can have a sustained, natural edge in AI indefinitely. 

  • America might bring in at least $600 million in outstanding dues to the UNESCO.

  • But it is high time — and countries such as India would do well to point this out — that the organisation gets stricter on countries exiting and entering on frivolous grounds, alongside framing policies and research that accommodate the tussles of a hyper-connected world.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: UNESCO and U.S. UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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