Kosovo has failed to gain enough support to join the UN cultural body in a setback for its bid for international recognition as a state. The vote is seen as a victory for Russia and Serbia.
A majority of members of the UN cultural agency supported Kosovo but its bid failed to secure the required two-thirds majority amid stiff resistance from Serbia and Russia.
Of 142 countries voting, Kosovo received 92 "yes" votes, falling short of the 94 needed for a two-thirds majority. A few dozen countries abstained from voting and 50 voted "no."
Kosovo has been recognized by 111 countries, including the United States and many European states, since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. However, it has failed to gain enough support to overcome Serbian and Russian opposition to take up a seat at the UN.
Inclusion in the UN's organization for science, culture and education would have been a major step toward joining the UN itself. Kosovo is already a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and has signed an association agreement with the EU.
Two monasteries and two churches in Kosovo are on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The Balkan state has said it would protect Serbian cultural heritage if elected to the UN cultural body.
Kosovo separated from Serbia in 1999 after NATO intervened to stop the expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serbian forces fighting a rebel insurgency.
The EU has been working to broker a normalization of relations between the two Balkan neighbors, which Serbia said would be endangered by Kosovo's UNESCO bid.
cw/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)