The U.S. Department of State announced on October 12, 2017 that the United States will withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The following statement may be attributed to Benton Foundation Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss:
Assistant Secretary of State William Benton, my grandfather, played an instrumental role in the creation of UNESCO in the wake of World War II and later served as United States Ambassador to UNESCO from 1963 to 1968. Benton realized that increased international understanding demanded that all people have access to modern means of mass communication, which, at the time, meant newspapers, radio, and motion pictures. The Benton-led American delegation to UNESCO’s charter conference wove Benton’s ideas into the fabric of UNESCO which aimed to facilitate continuous and close international contacts among scientists, teachers, and societies. UNESCO continues to work to ensure every child and citizen has access to quality education, lives in a cultural environment rich in diversity and dialogue, benefits from scientific advances, and enjoys full freedom of expression. These aims are as important now as they were in 1945. The Benton Foundation and I are saddened that the U.S. is backing away from our ideals and international commitments.
Benton, a non-profit, operating foundation, believes that communications policy—rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity—has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities to bridge our divides.