What you need to know:
Public Laws 101-246, Title IV, §414 and 103-236, Title IV, §410 prevent crucial US foreign aid to developing countries and threaten our nation's ability to influence and participate in global affairs.
The United States was recently forced to cut its funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a world charity organization whose mission is “building peace in the minds of men and women,” and whose many programs include the promotion of sustainable development, conservation of freshwater, developing disaster early warning systems, furthering human rights, promoting intercultural dialogue, safeguarding cultural heritage, strengthening the free media, and supporting accessible information.
This cessation of funds is due to a decision that took place last October, when UNESCO members voted overwhelmingly in favor of admitting a new member state. The division of votes - 107 votes in favor and only 14 votes against - demonstrated the widespread approval and acceptance of an idea with a tumultuous and contentious history: Palestinian statehood. Immediately after UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestine as a member state, the United States was forced to cease its funding to the charity, money that had formerly comprised 22% of the organization’s budget. This cessation of funds was the result of two US laws, Public Law 101-246, Title IV, §414, created in 1990, and Public Law 103-236, Title IV, §410, created in 1994. Both laws were written to discourage the acceptance of a Palestinian bid for statehood by outlawing US funding to any UN affiliated organization that recognized Palestine as a state.
Now, with almost a fourth of its budget gone, UNESCO is being forced to cut back on its spending and eliminate many of its programs, including specific ones intended to assist Iraq in becoming a democracy and others bringing education to young, impoverish children throughout developing countries.
It is not just innocent people and children around the world who will suffer from the 1990 and 1994 Public Laws prohibiting funding to any UN affiliated organization that recognizes Palestine as a state. The laws are also detrimental to the security and well being of the United States and its citizens. If the US withholds payments for two years, it will lose its seat in UNESCO, along with its ability to influence where money is donated and its international standing as major contributor to world-wide charity. Moreover, though turned down by the UN Security Council, Palestine is certain to make other statehood bids in organizations such as the Atomic Energy Council, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The admittance of Palestine into WHO poses one of the most significant threats, as the political leanings of the member nations make the required simple majority a near certainty, and the organization is responsible for monitoring pandemics, bringing aid to stricken countries, and the near eradication of the polio virus. If any of these organizations vote Palestine in as a member state, the US will be forced to withdraw funding, possibly losing membership and undoubtedly reducing our ability influence and take part in world affairs.
Whether or not one believes Palestine deserves recognition as a state is not the issue. World charity organizations such as UNESCO should be placed above border disputes. The basis of Public Laws 101-246 and 103-236 are no longer valid, and the laws reduce some of America’s most socially valuable influences across the globe. Although President Obama has expressed interest in passing an amendment allowing him to waive both laws, a resolution must first be introduced to the Senate.
Sign this petition to request Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to introduce a resolution to the Senate to allow for a Presidential Waiver of Public Laws 101-246 and 103-236 so that valuable services can be delivered to those in dire need.