Geneva - Palestinians Aim To Join 16 Other UN Agencies
Geneva - It’s not just UNESCO: The Palestinians’ top envoy in Geneva said Tuesday he believes that joining the U.N. agency for culture, education and science will “open the door” to joining 16 other U.N. agencies within weeks.
Ibrahim Khraishi, the top Palestinian envoy at the U.N. in Geneva, told The Associated Press that Palestinian diplomats are now planning to capitalize on Monday’s landslide vote to allow the Palestinians into UNESCO by preparing papers to join the other U.N. agencies and a variety of other international organizations.
“Now we are studying when we are going to move for full membership on the other U.N. agencies,” Khraishi said. “It’s our target for (us to join) the international organizations and the U.N. agencies.”
He said the UNESCO vote sets a precedent to allowing such broad memberships.
“We are working on it, one by one,” he said. “Because it’s now precedent that we are a full member in one of the biggest and one of the most important U.N. agencies, UNESCO. So it will open the door for us now to go further in our efforts to join other U.N. agencies.”
The Obama administration cut off funding to UNESCO after Monday’s vote, and U.S. officials warned of a “cascade” effect at other U.N. bodies that might follow UNESCO’s lead.
The Palestinians have triggered a long-standing congressional ban on U.S. funding to U.N. bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.
The U.N. agency campaign comes as Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but that effort is still under examination and the U.S. has pledged a veto unless there is a peace deal with Israel.
Becoming a UNESCO member could give the Palestinians an advantage in joining the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, whose rules say membership is “equally open” to those already a member of other U.N. specialized agencies.
But it’s not clear whether that means membership is automatic, and Geneva-based spokeswoman for the organization Samar Shamoon declined to comment on that Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Esther Brimmer emphasized Monday that Palestinian membership in the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, known as WIPO, “could have serious implications for U.S. leadership in this organization,” which supports global infrastructure helping U.S. companies to protect their business interests around the world, according to State Department briefing notes.
“The United States is a leading global voice on issues related to patent, copyright, and trademark matters, and should the U.S. be unable to provide its contributions to WIPO, the impact of that voice could be significantly diminished,” the U.S. agency said.
Of course, a withdrawal of U.S. funding from WIPO also could leave U.S. companies vulnerable.
Fadela Chaib, spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, another Geneva-based U.N. agency, said any nation that is part of the U.N. can join. For those that are not part, she said, the annual World Health Assembly can approve membership by a simple majority vote if a written request is received at least 30 days beforehand.
Cutting U.S. funding for WHO would hurt, she conceded.
“Of course we need it. The U.S. funding is quite important, I guess for all the U.N. organizations,” Chaib told reporters. “It’s a vital funding need for WHO.”
More of today's headlines“Gaza City - An Egyptian official said Tuesday that Israel has agreed to briefly delay expanding its military operations in the Gaza Strip to give Egypt time to try to...” Gaza City - Egypt: Israel Delaying Expanding Gaza Offensive “New York - Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money has gone missing from MF Global in recent days, prompting an...” New York - Feds Investigating MF Global for Missing Money