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UNESCO Condemns Syria But Won't Kick it Out

UNESCO condemns Syria for its brutal crackdown on protesters but stops short of dismissing it from its human rights committee.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/9/2012, 5:15 AM

Damaged houses in Baba Amr, Homs
Damaged houses in Baba Amr, Homs
Handout photo / Reuters

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, condemned Syria on Thursday for its brutal crackdown on opposition protesters but stopped short of dismissing it from its human rights committee.

Fox News reported that the commission of the executive board of UNESCO voted 35-8 Thursday for the watered-down resolution.

The resolution, the report noted, urged Syrian authorities to end human rights violations, protect the population, restore freedom of expression and respect heritage.

But it did not heed U.S. calls for Syria to be removed from the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, which deals with human rights.

UNESCO’s decision was slammed by U.S. officials, Fox News reported. David Killion, the U.S. representative to the organization, said the U.S. was "profoundly disappointed" by the decision.

“Given the actions of the Assad regime, it is not clear how Syria can contribute to the work of the committee," he said.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also decried the vote and said in a statement quoted by Fox News, “UNESCO is sending a clear signal about where its priorities lie. Despite the Assad regime’s murder of thousands of innocent Syrians seeking freedom and human rights, UNESCO's executive board lacks the will even to kick Syria off of its human rights committee, much less to remove Syria from the board entirely.”

Watchdog group UN Watch said that the latest vote shows UNESCO officials are afraid that if they boot Syria from the human rights panel, “many of them would be next.”

“The world squandered a golden opportunity to expose the Assad regime's lack of legitimacy,” UN Watch Director Hillel Neuer said in a statement quoted by Fox News