First lady Jill Biden celebrates US' re-entry into UNESCO in Paris

Jill Biden with French first lady Brigitte Macron at l’Élysée - Monday 24 July
Jill Biden with French first lady Brigitte Macron at l’Élysée - Monday 24 July Copyright JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP
By Savin Mattozzi
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Jill Biden attended a flag raising ceremony in Paris on Tuesday, marking the official re-entry of the United States back into the U.N. agency.


After leaving UNESCO nearly five years ago, the Unites States flag was once again raised at the Paris-based U.N. cultural organization on Tuesday.

Jill Biden delivered remarks during the ceremony, noting the importance of global collaboration and peace.

“The biggest challenges of our time cannot be solved in isolation” Dr. Biden said during her speech. “When we take our seat in that coalition, we can fight for our values like democracy and equality and human rights.”

During her visit to France with her daughter, the first lady is expected to visit the northern part of the country today (Wednesday 26 July) and stop by Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO heritage site.

She will also make a stop at the Brittany American Cemetery to pay tribute to the US soldiers who died during WWII and to highlight the strong historical bond that the US and France have had.

France is one of the oldest allies to the United States and played a crucial role in the American War of Independence.

Past issues with UNESCO

The US left UNESCO in 2017 after former president Donald Trump claimed that the organization held "anti-Israel bias" after the U.N. organization declared the Palestinian city of Hebron a Palestinian world heritage site.

The US’ departure was the second time the country left UNESCO since its founding in 1945. In 1984, the US left the organization under president Ronald Regan after he claimed the organization was advancing Soviet interests. It later re-joined nearly 20 years later in 2003 under president George W. Bush.

Prior to its departure from the organization in 2017, the US was UNESCO’s single largest donor, contributing 22% of the organization’s funding.

The Biden administration has requested that $150 million (approx. €135.4 million) be set aside for next year's budget to start paying past dues with the organization.

Promoting arts and culture abroad

Last month, Jill Biden visited Portugal to attend a celebration for the 60th anniversary of the US State Department’s Art in Embassies programme.

She was joined by renowned artist Amy Sherald who is most known for her portrait of former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as her depictions of contemporary African-American experiences.

The programme was inaugurated by John F. Kennedy in 1963 to promote cross cultural connections through art and to serve as a soft power mechanism for the United States.

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