US Withdrawal from UNESCO and Implications for the Art/Cultural World

After years of staggering relations, the United States formally announced its break from UNESCO earlier in October. The decision is expected to take effect by the end of 2018, when the country will continue to participate in the organization as a nonmember observer. The Trump administration has met with mounting criticism for its decision to withdraw from the world’s most prominent cultural organization. Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s current director general, expressed regret over the decision and stressed universality as the key to UNESCO’s mission. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City also issued a statement from its president, Daniel H. Weiss, in response to the event. “President Trump’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO,” Weiss wrote, “undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort [to support the world’s artistic traditions] and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation.”