A general view of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters is seen at dusk in Paris, France, October 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer)
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In the modernist but faded headquarters of UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural agency on Paris's elegant Left Bank, more than a few diplomats wandered the corridors Friday wondering if the organisation has a future.At the heart of its recent problems is a financing crisis since 2011, when UNESCO voted to admit Palestine as a full member state and Washington responded by halting payment of its annual $80 million in dues.The United States and Israel were among just 14 of 194 members to vote against Palestine's membership. Without U.S. money, UNESCO, which employs around 2,000 people worldwide, has been forced to cut programmes, freeze hiring and fill gaps with voluntary contributions.At this stage, UNESCO officials still don't know if the United States will make up its arrears before it officially exits on Dec. 31, 2018 .Unlike at the U.N. Security Council, where five powers wield a veto, UNESCO takes decisions based on majority votes, either of its General Secretariat that includes all 195 nations, or of the 58-member Executive Board.Prior to Thursday's U.S. decision to withdraw, UNESCO's board had tried to evade confrontation by voting to postpone divisive Israeli-Palestinian texts until April, diplomats said.
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