Rick Hellman
KU News Service

Expert on UNESCO disappointed by US withdrawal

Thu, 10/12/2017

LAWRENCE — The United States’ decision to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is regrettable, according to a University of Kansas professor who is also a member of a UNESCO advisory panel and an expert on historic preservation.

School of Architecture & Design Associate Professor Kapila Silva is a member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which is an advisory body to UNESCO. He’s also co-author and co-editor of the recent book “Cultural Landscapes of South Asia: Studies in Heritage Conservation and Management” (Routledge, 2017). 

The State Department announced this morning the U.S. was withdrawing from UNESCO, citing “mounting arrears … the need for fundamental reform … and continuing anti-Israel bias.”

Silva said today that move, while disappointing, may not have much effect on UNESCO’s work.

“This is certainly disappointing that the U.S. withdraws from organizations that it helped establish in the first place and from the global leadership that the world expects from it, based on very narrow political issues,” Silva said. “If the U.S. thinks that UNESCO and other U.N. agencies are not doing a good job in their mission, there are other things the U.S. could do to apply pressure – maintain a dialogue with U.N. agencies and other influential member states and, in certain cases, reduce the U.S. financial commitment, etc. I think that U.S. withdrawal may not have a significant impact on UNESCO activities, however.”

To interview Silva about the U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO, please contact KU News Service Public Affairs Officer Rick Hellman, 785-864-8852 or

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