Washington, D.C.  Forty-nine educational, cultural, and human rights groups today called on members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support passage of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 1950) that authorizes the appropriation of $71 million for the U.S. to pay dues necessary to rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The House is expected to vote on the legislation tomorrow.

In the letter, the signatory organizations remind Members of Congress of the promise President Bush made to the United Nations last year when he announced that the U.S. would rejoin UNESCO. In a speech before the UN General Assembly, President Bush said: “As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will return to UNESCO. The organization has been reformed and America will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning.”

The letter commends President Bush’s decision to rejoin UNESCO and recognizes the sweeping reforms implemented by the organization that have made it more effective. The U.S. groups also note that UNESCO enjoys the support of First Lady Laura Bush who spotlighted UNESCO’s education and literacy initiatives on February 13, 2003, when she was appointed to serve as the Honorary Ambassador for UNESCO’s Decade of Literacy.