Jill Biden at UNESCO, a symbol for this United Nations organization

American First Lady at UNESCO. The United States wants to use this symbol to demonstrate its attachment to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture, which it has recently joined after leaving under Donald Trump.

Jill Biden, who arrived in France mid-morning on Monday, enters the center of her official visit to France on Tuesday, her husband Joe’s first since becoming head of the White House, after a first afternoon devoted to meeting staff at the US embassy in Paris.

He will have to meet the wife of French President Brigitte Macron at the Elysee Palace. Then Ms. Biden will join in raising the American flag inside the walls of UNESCO, marking the return of the United States to the United Nations agency headquartered in Paris.

She will deliver a speech there along with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

A UN agency official says “it makes even more sense that it is Jill Biden”, “a former teacher with many education-related commitments”, who was “one of the first supporters of the United States’ return to UNESCO”.

And this source reminds that in September 2021, the First Lady met Audrey Azoulay in Washington, where a reception was held in honor of UNESCO.

On Wednesday, Jill Biden will visit the American Cemetery in Brittany to “pay tribute to American soldiers who lost their lives” during World War II.

According to her schedule, she will end her visit to France at the famous Mont-Saint-Michel, a World Heritage Site for Humanity, to “underline the importance of preserving cultural heritage sites around the world”. Brigitte Macron will also be present in Mont-Saint-Michel.

The United States “virtually organized the First Lady’s trip around UNESCO. Only in free time, she would do bilateral work (meetings with French officials, editor’s note), and not vice versa”, the UN executive rejoiced.

In a tweet on Monday, US Ambassador to France Dennis Bauer described an official visit as “signalling the return of the United States to UNESCO”.

– Multilateral Orders –

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the organization’s headquarters in Paris on June 12, 2023 (AFP/Archive – Alain Jocard)

The diplomat further said, “We look forward to working with our partners again on the development of good practices in the fields of access to education, preservation of heritage, protection of journalists, or new technologies.”

The United States recently joined UNESCO, following a referendum in its favor on June 30 by the member states of this United Nations organization and despite opposition from Russia and China.

He left it under Donald Trump in 2017, denouncing the institution’s “persistent anti-Israel bias”. This withdrawal was effective from December 2018, along with Israel’s withdrawal.

The withdrawal is part of a general context of growing rivalry with China, while Beijing seeks to replace the international multilateral order established after World War II, one source of which is UNESCO.

In March, US diplomacy chief Antony Blinken speculated that the US absence allowed China to place more importance on rules on artificial intelligence (AI) than the United States, when UNESCO introduced a recommendation on the ethics of AI from 2021.

He said, “I really believe that we should come back to UNESCO, not to make a gift to UNESCO, but because the things that happen at UNESCO matter.”

At the end of June only ten countries opposed the US withdrawal, including Iran, Syria, China, North Korea, and especially Russia, who deliberately slowed down the debate considerably, and failed to overturn their outcome.

The United States had already left UNESCO in 1984 under Ronald Reagan, citing perceived wastefulness and budgetary overruns of the organization, which they re-integrated in October 2003.

The UNESCO logo at the organization's headquarters in Paris on June 12, 2023 (AFP/Archive - Alain Jocard)
The UNESCO logo at the organization’s headquarters in Paris on June 12, 2023 (AFP/Archive – Alain Jocard)

His return is a financial relief to the organization, whose US contribution was 22% of the budget. Washington has pledged to pay its dues in full, which amounts to $619 million, which is more than UNESCO’s estimated annual budget of $534 million.

Add a Comment