US & Israel Quit UNESCO – $600 Million Up In Smoke Under Bokova’s Watch

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Oct 13 2017
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Irina Bokova, the outgoing UNESCO chief, has every reason to be ashamed of her leadership. The world body is about to lose a fifth (22%) of its funding after the United States announced that it is withdrawing from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – accusing the body of “anti-Israel bias”. And Israel decides to play along and withdraw too.


Founded after World War 2 to help protect cultural and natural heritage around the world such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park, UNESCO might not be able to recover about US$600 million from the U.S., now that Trump administration has decided to pull the plug on the United Nations’ agency.


Washington has already withheld its funding – US$80 million annually – for UNESCO since 2011, when the body admitted Palestine as a full member. Coincidently, since Bokova took office as the 10th Director-General of UNESCO in 2009, the 195-member organization is losing its shine not only in funding but also controversial and scandals.

UNESCO Chief - Irina Bokova Director-General

The withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018, but it’s hard to imagine how Irina Bokova could demand the arrears of US$600 million from Donald Trump, after the U.S. president condemned “bureaucracy and mismanagement” at the U.N. In his first visit to the U.N. last month as the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, Trump lectured the U.N. to buck-up and reform.


Terribly upset, Bokova called the US withdrawal a “loss to multilateralism”. The Bulgarian politician said – “At the time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack.”


As expected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel praised the move by the United States and pledged to withdraw Israel from the organization as well. Mr. Netanyahu said – “This is a courageous and ethical decision because UNESCO has become a theater of the absurd and instead of preserving history, distorts it.”


State Department officials said – “It sends a strong message that we need to see fundamental reform in the organization, and it raises everyone’s awareness about continued anti-Israel bias.” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said the last straw was when UNESCO this summer designated the old city of Hebron in the West Bank, with its Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Palestinian World Heritage site.


But this is not the first time the U.S. has shown its displeasure and withdraws. In 1984 during the Cold War, America withdrew from the agency because the Reagan administration deemed the organization too susceptible to Moscow’s influence and overly critical of Israel. Later, President George W. Bush pledged in 2002 to rejoin the organization.


Irina Bokova was a favourite to become the first woman secretary-general of United Nations. But she only finished fourth in the race for the to U.N. job last year, after she got involved with the wife of the biggest crook in the world – Rosmah Mansor. Bokova was caught in an embarrassing “Lead by Example” Award fiasco in October 2016.


Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was supposedly received the UNESCO’s award in conjunction with the 71st United Nations General Assembly. Initially, Irina Bokova had sent letters to Mr. Najib, his wife Rosmah and Foreign Minister Anifah Aman informing them about the special tribute award.


At the eleventh hour, amusingly, the award was cancelled. In the middle of a chaotic situation, the organizer of the event – Antiquities Coalition – clarified that the award had nothing to do with the United Nations’ cultural arm – UNESCO. Embarrassed and outraged, Rosmah claimed she had never applied for the award and in a face-saving attempt, had declined the award.


In reality, Irina Bokova was caught off guard and panicked when American media – Wall Street Journal and New York Times – started questioning the appropriateness of the award considering that PM Najib Razak was being investigated “indirectly” by the U.S. Department of Justice over stolen money allegedly originated from 1MDB to the tune of US$4.5 billion.

1MDB Scandal - US-DOJ Links Stolen Money To Riza Aziz and Malaysian Official 1 - Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

Days after the UNESCO award scandal, Bokova posted a statement titled – “The Malaysian Example – Partnering with Asia to Prevent Violent Extremism” – obviously trying to suck up to Rosmah Mansor. Her credibility took a hit for ignoring the fact that Malaysia was a breeding ground for terroristsracism policy leading to riots and endorsement of gangsterism.


On top of turning a blind eye on corruption and recognizing them instead, she has her fair share of scandals – including owning a US$3 million Manhattan property and appointed her deputy who possessed fake qualifications. So, it appears that Bokova has been leveraging her position as UNESCO chief conducting hanky-panky business transactions.


The scandal began in 2011, when Ms. Ana Luiza Thompson-Flores became head of the Bureau of Human Resources Management (HRM). She was, however, appointed by Irina Bokova to the post through manipulation of the recruitment procedures and lowering of the qualification requirements. The dream job comes with a starting salary of US$120,000.

UNESCO Chief - Irina Bokova

Three years later, history repeated itself. In 2014, Ms. Thompson-Flores, still in her capacity as HRM Director, drafted the Vacancy Notice for the post Assistant Director-General for Strategic Planning – a position that requires a Ph.D. degree. Of course, Ms. Thompson-Flores applied for the post – without the qualification – and again, Irina Bokova interviewed and appointed her.


The best part was, despite holding a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the American University in Washington D. C. and an MBA Certificate from John Cabot University in Rome, those certificates did not exist. Ms. Thompson-Flores actually possessed only a “Certificate in Management”, but the UNESCO Chief Bokova appointed her anyway.


Bokova also raised eyebrows when she paid US$2.4 million in cash for two apartments in Manhattan, not to mention her son (by a first marriage) repaid his US$ 870,000 mortgage in 4 years. The math didn’t add up, simply because she could not afford those properties based on her income, leading to speculations that she is corrupted – awarding UNESCO cultural monuments in exchange for kickbacks.

UNESCO Chief - Irina Bokova Director-General


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