The United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural, and Communications Organization (UNESCO) grew from seeds planted during World War II and enjoyed bipartisan Congressional support as it joined the UN family in the 1940s. But controversy overtook it; the United States withdrew by 1984. It re-entered nearly twenty years later, but objecting to the agency’s 2011 vote to admit the Palestinian Authority, it began extracting itself once again. Barring a political miracle, the United States will assume observer status by this time next year. In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, Richard T. Arndt examined the history of UNESCO and explored the possible consequences of U.S. withdrawal.
A scholar of the French Enlightenment, Dick Arndt joined the United States Information Agency in 1961 after receiving his doctorate from Columbia. He served as a cultural diplomat until 1985, working in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Iran, Italy, and France. He has taught at the University of Virginia and George Washington University. Besides The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century (2005), his publications include The Fulbright Difference, 1948-92 (1993).
A webcast of the seminar is available at the Remarkable Past and Present Fate of UNESCO.
As always, the seminar met at 4 p.m. in the 6th Floor Moynihan Board Room at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 13th and Pennsylvania, NW, Washington, DC (Federal Triangle Metro). It was free and open to the public. Reservations were (and will be in the future) requested because of limited seating: HAPP@wilsoncenter.org or 202-691-4166.