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New Zealand Nominates Former PM Helen Clark for UN Secy General

Helen Clark was New Zealand’s PM from 1999 to 2008 and currently heads UN development programme

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Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said on Monday she would campaign to be the next UN secretary-general. Clark pledged to improve transparency in a bid to become the first woman to head the world body.

New Zealand submitted a letter on Monday to the president of the 193-member General Assembly, formally nominating Clark as a candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general. Clark is currently the head of the UN Development Programme.

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Ban to Leave Office at End of 2016

Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, will step down at the end of 2016 after two five-year terms. The top job at the United Nations has always been held by a man, since the body’s inception 70 years ago, and there is a strong push for a woman to be elected.

Helen Clark was New Zealand’s PM from 1999 to 2008 and currently heads UN development programme
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the media ahead of the UN General Debate at UN headquarters in New York, 16 September 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

At least 53 countries, led by Colombia, want a female secretary-general. Several civil society groups are also lobbying for a woman to lead the organisation.

Clark has touted her leadership experience as the former Prime Minister of New Zealand to be considered as a candidate for the new UN chief.

I’m seeking election on the basis of the skills that I have, and I would expect in the 21st century to be given equal consideration to any male applicant.
Helen Clark, former Prime Minister, New Zealand

New Zealand Supports Clark’s Bid

Helen Clark was New Zealand’s PM from 1999 to 2008 and currently heads UN development programme
Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and senior United Nations official, speaks during an interview in New York, Monday, April 4, 2016. (Photo: AP)

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, said Clark has the right mix of skills and experience for the job.

There are major global challenges in this world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective. Helen Clark has a vast amount of experience in international affairs which will be hard for other candidates to match.
John Key, Prime Minister, New Zealand

Clark is currently up against seven candidates, including three other women: UN cultural organisation (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Croatia’s former foreign minister Vesna Pusic and Moldova’s former foreign minister Natalia Gherman.

The other four candidates are former Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim, Montenegro Foreign Minister Igor Luksic, former Slovenian President Danilo Turk and former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, who is also a former Portuguese Prime Minister.

Clark’s candidacy will come as a major blow to ambitions of former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has been reported to be eyeing the top UN job.

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