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.
U.S. withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. The United States will remain a full member of UNESCO until that time. The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova expressed regret over Washington's step.
She recalled that in 2011, after the suspension of Washington's financial participation in the organization, "UNESCO has never been more important to the United States, and the United States has never been so important to UNESCO."
"This truth has become even more evident today, at a time when the growth of extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term solutions for peace and freedom, in the context of combating racism and anti-Semitism, in combating ignorance and discrimination," she said.
UNESCO is responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. Almost 200 states are currently members of UNESCO.
Azerbaijan is an active member of four UNESCO committees. Five national committees on various programs of the organization operate in Azerbaijan.
The country is one of the donors of UNESCO. Azerbaijan is funding a UNESCO project on the education of girls in Africa in accordance with the Framework Agreement signed between Azerbaijan and UNESCO in 2013.