The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) urges the incoming Biden/Harris administration to rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and to re-engage in all areas of the international organization’s expertise, including cultural heritage, education, lifelong learning, information/communication, and science. UNESCO’s seven-decade mission to promote peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture is more critical today than ever before.

CIES is a U.S.-based academic and professional society – with an international membership of more than 3,000 researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and students – dedicated to promoting comparative and international education and related areas of research and practice. CIES has long recognized the important role of UNESCO in improving the provision of inclusive, quality, and equitable education worldwide. In 2013 and 2017, CIES voiced its concerns over US government decisions to stop funding and then withdraw from UNESCO. Today, we reaffirm previous CIES statements and resolutions that recognize UNESCO as an essential international organization.

For over six decades CIES members have benefitted from valuable UNESCO efforts in policy dialogue and consensus building, planning, and capacity development, monitoring and data collection, research and evidence sharing, teacher preparation and pedagogical practice, and imagining more sustainable and diverse educational futures. The CIES values UNESCO’s essential contributions in supporting global efforts to ensure quality and inclusive education and lifelong learning for all children, youth, and adults, especially in the framework of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The continued absence of the U.S. from UNESCO deprives U.S. citizens of access to vital UNESCO programs that aim to make education a catalyst for gender equality, social inclusion, global citizenship, sustainable development, nonviolence and cultural diversity. It deprives U.S. researchers from contributing to UNESCO’s innovative work in artificial intelligence, mobile learning platforms, higher education qualifications, genocide education, global networks on literacy and learning cities, climate change education, and improving teacher quality. At this challenging time in history, the U.S. has much to contribute to, and learn from, the international education community and we therefore urge the United States to restore its membership in UNESCO.