UNESCO's future

It is good that the Monitor is devoting more space to the subject of US participation in UNESCO [UNESCO series by David Francis, Dec. 17-19, and ```United States' UNESCO policy: 1985 and beyond'' by Elliot L. Richardson, Dec. 17]. Much is needed to make up for the lack of attention given to this organization. It is particularly important to consider alternative futures, including negotiations with key member states of UNESCO, as Ambassador Richardson proposes. His four recommendations are right on the mark:

Set out clearly our expectations for UNESCO in the future and the conditions for our reentry;

Appoint early a high-ranking ambassador in Paris;

Create an active interagency committee in Washington to assess US interests and strategy; and

Arrange to continue to fund selected transnational activities of direct concern to American groups.

Mr. Richardson omitted one critical point. It is essential the government have advice and assistance from the American private communities which have experience and interests in international cooperation in education, science, culture, and communications. Since the US National Commission (in its present form) has been less and less able, or even called upon, to perform that role, a revitalized citizen body needs to be established. Most of our allies have urged that.

I look forward to further reporting and commentary on UNESCO. Please, however, do not make misleading comparisons of UNESCO with single-purpose, aid-administering bodies such as the UN Development Program, the UN Children's Fund, or the US Agency for International Development. Moreover, taking account of all funds administered by UNESCO, it is not 80 percent of its funds which are expended at headquarters; the proportion is 50 percent. Finally, I have seen the GAO and internal UNESCO documents critical of ``duplication.'' Certainly they can and should be eliminated, but they do not constitute, as the reader is led to believe, a large number. John E. Fobes Former Chairman, US National Commission and Former Deputy Director-General, UNESCO Webster, N.C.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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