Canada’s federal government voted to supply no additional funds to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization after the body admitted Palestine as a full member. Canada joins Israel and America in restricting its contributions to the organization as retribution for the positive vote.
In what he called a “measured” response, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters Tuesday that Canada would offer no further “voluntary” payments to the cultural agency, but would continue their funding at current levels. Ottawa provides nearly $10 million to UNESCO annually, but previous years’ additional contributions of around $1.3 million will not be repeated, now that Palestine is a full member.
"Under no circumstances will Canada cover the budgeting shortfall as a result of this decision and Canada has decided to freeze all further voluntary contributions to UNESCO," Baird said.
The shortfall is anticipated as a result of the United States cutting off all funding for UNESCO due to a standing law that prohibits contributions to any UN body that recognizes Palestine prior to a peace agreement with Israel. American funding makes up about 22 percent of UNESCO’s annual budget. Israel has also voluntarily ceased funding to the agency.
"The bottom line is there's going to be a large hole in UNESCO's budget because of the American law which withdraws funding and people at UNESCO should not look to Canada to fill that budget hole," Baird said. "They'll have to go to the countries who supported this resolution, that caused this budget loophole."
Canada was one of 14 nations to vote against the motion to allow Palestine into UNESCO. 107 member countries approved the move. Like the United States, Canada holds that a peace agreement must be reached between Israel and Palestine before the UN intervenes in the process.
Any country that stops paying dues to UNESCO for two consecutive years loses its vote within the body.