U.S. First Lady, Jill Biden attended a flag-raising ceremony at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris on Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
The ceremony signified the official re-entry of U.S into the U.N. agency after a controversial five-year hiatus. The U.S flag was hoisted up outside UNESCO’s headquarters to rousing applause and a rendition of the national anthem.
Before the flag-raising, Jill Biden delivered a speech about the importance of American leadership in preserving cultural heritage and empowering education and science across the globe.
“I was honored to join you today as we raise the flag of the Unites States, the symbol of our commitment to global collaboration and peace,” she said. She added that this decision was an example of President Joe Biden’s pledge about “restoring our leadership on the world stage.”
Jill Biden declared, “We are so proud to rejoin UNESCO,” acknowledging that “as a teacher I’m a little biased.”
The United States had announced its intention to rejoin UNESCO in June, and the organization’s 193 member states earlier this month voted to approve the U.S. reentry.
Tuesday’s ceremony, which included a speech by UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, formally signified the U.S. becoming the 194th member and flag proprietor at the agency.
We are putting “the Star Spangled banner back where it belongs,” Azoulay remarked.
Referring to current global political instabilities, Azoulay also said, “In the time of divisions, rifts and existential threats, we reaffirm our union here today. Together we will be stronger.”
“The return of the United States has a meaning that is bigger than UNESCO,” she added.
Azoulay highlighted the significance of the move for multilateralism and “universality” as a whole. She stated that the momentum of UNESCO will grow with the reintegration of the U.S., thereby strengthening the organization’s initiatives throughout the world.
Additionally, UNESCO special envoy, Forest Whitaker, the American actor, gave a speech hailing the spirit of peace through education that “could not have been possible without UNESCO.”
This is the second time the U.S. has returned to UNESCO after a period of withdrawal. The country previously left the organization in 1984 under the Reagan administration, citing mismanagement, corruption and perceived advancement of Soviet interests. It rejoined in 2003 under George W. Bush’s presidency.
Before its second withdrawal under Trump administration, the U.S. was the single biggest funder of UNESCO, contributing 22% of the agency’s overall funding.
A Tribute To American History And Cultural Heritage In France
In the following days, Jill Biden’s visit will also serve to pay tribute to American history and cultural heritage in France.
The U.S First Lady, who teaches English and writing at a Virginia community college, brings with her a passion for education and personal experience in the field to represent the United States in Paris.
On Wednesday, July 26, 2023, Jill Biden will go to the Brittany American Cemetery to honor the U.S. soldiers who lost their lives during World War II.
This tribute will serve as a solemn reminder of the shared history and sacrifices that bind the U.S. and France together.
She will conclude her trip to France at the renowned Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO world heritage site, to underscore the importance of preserving heritage locations around the world.
Her visit to the iconic site will serve to highlight the shared global responsibility in safeguarding global cultural treasures.