Urging U.S. Re-Entry into UNESCO in 2003
Since its inception in 1999, the Better World Campaign had urged the U.S. to reenter into the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency that promotes international cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture and communication.
During the Cold War era, UNESCO became a cultural battleground in the East-West conflict. The deep-seated ideological differences of the two sides were reflected through educational and cultural policies, and UNESCO was often accused of expressing and breeding anti-Western ideas. The United States came to believe that the organization was overly politicized and corrupt, and so it withdrew from UNESCO in 1984.
Following the end of the Cold War, UNESCO underwent extensive reforms of staff, offices and budgets and—in time—the reasons for U.S. abstention from the organization became less clear. Since its inception in 1999, the Better World Campaign urged U.S. re-entry into UNESCO. Through a major grassroots and public affairs advocacy campaign, by building allies on Capitol Hill and creating a diverse and strong NGO coalition that supported the campaign, we were able to build a strong case for rejoining UNESCO.
Finally, in 2002, President George W. Bush expressed his intent for the U.S. to rejoin UNESCO and, in 2003, the United States officially raised its flag to join the organization, ending 18 years of estrangement.