The US plans to rejoin the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in July and will pay more than $600 million (£476 million) in back dues to the organisation, which aims to promote world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture. The US – a founding member of Unesco – announced that it would withdraw from the organisation in late 2017 over a lengthy dispute that was triggered by Palestine being admitted as a member state seven years earlier.

The US has indicated that rejoining Unesco will help in its global competition with China. Senior US State Department officials have suggested that the US’s withdrawal from the organisation enabled China to gain more influence in areas like setting international standards for Stem education and artificial intelligence. Before departing Unesco, the US was estimated to contribute approximately 22% to the organisation’s budget.

The US proposal and its financing plan will have to be approved by Unesco’s 193 members. Some member states have requested that a special session of Unesco’s general congress be convened to take the vote as soon as possible.