On 12 October 2017 both the USA and Israel withdrew from UNESCO.
The US State Department said
On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO. This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO.
The United States indicated to the Director General its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.
Pursuant to Article II(6) of the UNESCO Constitution, U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time.
The Elders expressed dismay over the announcements. Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:
While I very much regret the decisions of the US and Israel to pull out of UNESCO over alleged anti-Israel bias, I hope this will not be the final word. I encourage the governments concerned to choose engagement ahead of disengagement and reconsider their positions over the next year.
The Elders are particularly concerned that the departure from the family of international organisations of two member states could undermine the multilateral system.
The Director-General of UNESCO said, in part:
After receiving official notification by the United States Secretary of State, Mr Rex Tillerson, as UNESCO Director-General, I wish to express profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO.
Universality is critical to UNESCO’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity.
In 2011, when payment of membership contributions was suspended at the 36th session of the UNESCO General Conference, I said I was convinced UNESCO had never mattered as much for the United States, or the United States for UNESCO.
This is all the more true today, when the rise of violent extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term responses for peace and security, to counter racism and antisemitism, to fight ignorance and discrimination…
Despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful.
Together, we have worked to protect humanity’s shared cultural heritage in the face of terrorist attacks and to prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy.
To read her full statement see here.