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UNESCO Chief Optimistic UN Body Will End Anti-israel Measures

October 22, 1975
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Amadou Mahtar M’Bow, Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said yesterday that he believes that UNESCO in its next general conference, scheduled to meet late next year, will heed the recommendation of UNESCO’s executive board earlier this month to end the anti-Israel measures adopted by the organization last year.

Last November, after UNESCO adopted two Arab-inspired resolutions cutting Israel off from the agency’s international cultural aid program and barring her from its European regional grouping, Congress decided to halt all funds for UNESCO until the agency takes “concrete steps to correct its recent decision of a political character.” Washington withheld this year $19.8 million from UNESCO, its share of the agency’s budget.

Addressing a press luncheon here yesterday, M’Bow said that the United States must pay its 25 percent share of UNESCO’s budget, indicating that non-payment of American dues is illegal. “We are in a world where problems cannot be solved by a show of force,” he said,” neither by force of weapons nor by force of money.”

Later this week M’Bow is scheduled to meet with officials in Washington, where he will discuss UNESCO’s attempt to correct its position regarding Israel. According to M’Bow, his agency is in contact with Israel, though not in formal negotiations. He added that he is trying his best to normalize Israel’s position within UNESCO.


Meanwhile, the Committee For An Effective UNESCO has urged M’Bow to take action to ameliorate the harm done by the agency last November. The committee made the appeal in a letter to the director general. The letter was signed by Joshua Lederberg. Nobel Laureate and professor of biological sciences and genetics, and by Carl Djerassi, a noted chemist and colleague at Stanford University.

The letter, which was endorsed by many leading American scholars and academicians, urged action to restore UNESCO to its primary role as the chief organization for international scientific and cultural exchange. “We do not believe that the politicization of UNESCO will play a significant part in the outcome of the national conflict in the Mideast,” the scholars said in the letter. “Our concern, rather, is the impending destruction of UNESCO as a voice for trans-national intellectual life of mankind.”

The committee said 40 distinguished scholars, who reflect a substantial cross-section of the American scientific and academic community, had backed the letter. Among them the committee listed 17 Nobel Laureates, including Christian Anfinsen of the National institutes of Health; Hans Bethe of Cornell; Paul Samuelson of Harvard; Charles Townes of the University of California at Berkeley; and Gerhard Herzberg of the National Research Council of Canada.

The committee was organized “to serve as a central forum through which the American intellectual community has been able to voice concern about the politicization of UNESCO and act to bring about the restoration of the agency to the universality of the principles on which it was founded,” the committee’s letter said.

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