WASHINGTON -- As the United Nations celebrates its 60th anniversary as a symbol of peace and a beacon of hope, we must offer a frank and critical assessment of its failure to deliver on the promise to halt global human rights abuses, improve economic and social development and significantly enhance world security.
In all three categories, the United Nations has either ignored its charter mandate or has been so overwhelmed with bureaucracy, ineptitude, corruption and inefficiency that it could not carry out its mission.
The United Nations was born from the ashes of World War II with a primary goal of creating a charter around which all countries could join in the collective effort to prevent the outbreak of future wars. It was a just and noble cause in the wake of 30 million casualties during World War I and more than 60 million casualties in World War II.
The U.N. Charter says that only the nations that abide by international law, honor each other's borders, renounce aggression and respect human rights can be members of the United Nations. But barely a year after that charter was drafted, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued a stern warning, voicing his concerns that the Soviet Union - a U.N. member - was a growing threat to world peace.
From the day of the United Nations' founding, dozens of its "member" nations have participated in open and deliberate acts of hostile aggression and have engaged in the most heinous human rights abuses with no regard for the mission or the mandate of the United Nations.
Even a cursory review of the U.N. role in international conflicts reveals a long list of failures to halt human rights abuses, mediate border disputes between countries and resolve issues of arms escalation and acts of aggression between nations.
The United Nations was unable to halt the hostility between India and Pakistan in 1947, the Arab-Israeli conflicts of the late 1940s, the ongoing political repression of the people of Cuba, the slaughter of millions of Cambodian refugees by the ruthless dictator Pol Pot in the 1970s, the hardships and abuses faced by Somali refugees in the 1990s and, most recently, the government-sponsored genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia in which hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed.
Recent news reports have also raised questions of fraud and corruption within the United Nations. One example is the scandal involving the $1.5 billion project to renovate U.N headquarters in New York. Real estate mogul Donald Trump is quoted in a documentary - produced by Citizens United Foundation and Peace River Company, LLC - that examines the United Nations as it turns 60. He says he was completely baffled after a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he offered to manage the renovation project for free and finish the work at a saving of $500 million to $1 billion. According to Mr. Trump, U.N. officials weren't interested in saving $1 billion.
As we reflect upon the record of the United Nations, it has become apparent that sweeping policy reforms are needed along with an overhaul of the U.N. bureaucracy to offer any hope of eliminating the waste, inefficiency and corruption that have eaten the United Nations like a cancer.
It is time to seek real, substantive reform - from the United Nations' global policies and practices to its dysfunctional internal structure and bureaucracy - so that the world body can eventually live up to its name as a symbol of peace and a beacon of hope for all of humanity.
Actor Ron Silver and David Bossie, president of Citizens United, are co-executive producers of the new documentary Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60.