UNESCO: The UN's educational, scientific, cultural agency

AP

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  • FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2015, file photo, the Statue of Liberty stands in New York harbor with the New York City skyline in the background. UNESCO is known for proclaiming World Heritage sites _ places like the Egyptian pyramids or the Statue of Liberty that are conferred a special U.N. status. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

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    FILE- In this Friday, April 3, 2009 file photo, tourists visit the Comares Palace at the Alhambra, one of the UNESCO's World Heritage sites, in Granada, Spain. UNESCO is known for proclaiming World Heritage sites _ places like the Egyptian pyramids or the Statue of Liberty that are conferred a special U.N. status. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano, File)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2015, file photo, the Statue of Liberty stands in New York harbor with the New York City skyline in the background. UNESCO is known for proclaiming World Heritage sites _ places like the Egyptian pyramids or the Statue of Liberty that are conferred a special U.N. status. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

  • 1

    FILE- In this Friday, April 3, 2009 file photo, tourists visit the Comares Palace at the Alhambra, one of the UNESCO's World Heritage sites, in Granada, Spain. UNESCO is known for proclaiming World Heritage sites _ places like the Egyptian pyramids or the Statue of Liberty that are conferred a special U.N. status. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano, File)

PARIS (AP) Naming World Heritage sites places like the Egyptian pyramids or the Statue of Liberty that are given a special U.N. status and protection is one of the many programs run by UNESCO.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has long faced accusations of corruption, mismanagement and political bias in its resolutions and the United States and Israel said Thursday they would leave the agency because of what they said was a longstanding anti-Israel bias and the need for reform.

Beyond the diplomatic disputes, here's a look at some things that UNESCO does:

WORLD HERITAGE SITES

Its World Heritage Committee each year designates sites considered "of outstanding value to humanity" and intervenes when sites are in danger of destruction or damage. The program provides countries with technical assistance and professional training to preserve the sites, and now includes "intangible" heritage such as folk songs or traditional dances in its lists. A World Heritage site designation is coveted and seen as a boost to tourism.

EMPOWERING GIRLS

UNESCO works to improve literacy, with a special focus on girls in poor countries who get little or no schooling. The agency provides teacher training and materials and encourages programs for girls to pursue careers in science.

HOLOCAUST EDUCATION

Like the rest of the U.N., UNESCO was created in response to the horrors of World War II, and particularly Nazi crimes. Amid concerns that the agency's Arab members have used UNESCO to pass anti-Israel resolutions, UNESCO has worked in recent years on Holocaust awareness projects. That includes educational materials in multiple languages and organizing visits to former Nazi concentration camps.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The agency seeks to coordinate climate knowledge, including studies of impacts on UNESCO's network of biosphere reserves, and to improve international education about how global warming occurs and affects people around the world.

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