US First Lady Jill Biden is in France to mark the return of the United States to UNESCO. A move that aims to reaffirm American leadership.
A unique visit with symbolic value. For the first time since 2021 and the arrival of her husband Joe Biden in the White House, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden, is going to France. Arrived Monday mid-morning in Paris, she began her excursion with the meeting of the employees of the American embassy.
A denser program awaits him on this rainy Tuesday. Starting with a visit to the Elysee Palace to see Brigitte Macron, the wife of the Head of State – himself traveling to New Caledonia – who will accompany his American counterpart for the rest of his stay, according to information from the Figaro. Both former teachers, they had been accomplices last December during the state visit of the presidential couple to Washington.
Then will come the heart of his visit: a ceremony marking the return of the United States to UNESCO, the United Nations organization for education, science and culture. She will attend the raising of the American flag, then give a speech in the presence of its general manager, Audrey Azoulay.
Reassert American leadership
Behind the presence of Jill Biden, considered the Democratic President’s ambassador, hides a strong message: the United States is resuming its leadership role in international affairs. A way to reaffirm the White House’s commitment to the UN organization, its leadership, and above all to warn its rivals, China in particular.
Under the Trump era, in 2017, the world power withdrew from UNESCO, claiming that the organization displayed an anti-Israeli bias and that dues had increased.
She has been back since June 30 after a plebiscite by the member states of this organization. Only 10 members, out of 195, opposed it. Unsurprisingly, China and Russia but also – without much more surprise – Iran, Syria or even North Korea.
“This is an important step that really means the return of our leadership to a vital international space,” said a senior Biden administration official in comments reported by CNN.
“When we are not present in these organizations, other countries fill the void. And at a time of intensifying geopolitical competition, competitors are working hard at the UN to shape the global agenda.” Comments that target China in particular: Beijing has shown its desire to transform this international multilateral order set up after the Second World War, of which UNESCO is an emanation.
Soft power all
This reintegration also allows you to stay up to date and have your say on subjects such as “the protection of world heritage, the ethics of emerging technologies, freedom of the press and education.” “New US priorities for the group,” another senior official said.
“The Biden administration is committed to playing a leadership role in multilateral forums where our interests, security and prosperity can be protected and promoted. UNESCO is precisely one of those places where we believe the benefits of engagement are well worth the investment,” he added, still according to CNN.
The return of the United States to the organization, which notably designates “world heritage” sites, is also good news for the organization’s finances. American contributions represented 22% of the budget.
Above all, Washington has undertaken to repay its arrears in full, which amount to 619 million dollars, ie more than the annual budget of Unesco, estimated at 534 million dollars.
Jill Biden at the top of Mont-Saint-Michel
After this first demonstration of soft power, Jill Biden will take the road to Normandy on Wednesday. She will go to the American cemetery of Brittany, located in the Channel, in Montjoie-Saint-Martin, to “pay homage to the American soldiers who lost their lives” during the Second World War.
She will end her journey by visiting Mont-Saint-Michel, located in Normandy. Made with Brigitte Macron, this trip aims to “underline the importance of the preservation of cultural heritage sites around the world”.
Source: BFM TV