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.