New Zealand has officially nominated former Prime Minister and Head of the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark to be the next Secretary General of the United Nations.
The move is ahead of the possible announcement of former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s nomination although that countries Foreign Minister would not be drawn on whether the Australian Government would support Mr Rudd. Prime Minister John Key made the official announcement this morning.
“Having served as the Prime Minister of New Zealand for nine years and held one of the top jobs in the United Nations for the past seven, Helen Clark has the right mix of skills and experience for the job,” says Mr Key.
“There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective.
“Coming from New Zealand, Helen Clark is well placed to bridge divisions and get results. She is the best person for the job.”
Helen Clark was the Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and has worked as the Administrator of the UN Development Programme for the past seven years.
“Helen Clark has a vast amount of experience in international affairs which will be hard for other candidates to match. She’s a great listener and communicator, and I know she will make a difference if elected.”
Mr Key has submitted New Zealand’s nomination letter to the Presidents of the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council.
Clark is a well respected figure across the United Nations system and amongst many of the voting countries. She has a reputation for reform which some argue is exactly what the United Nations needs. Matthew Tukaki, Australia’s former Representative to the United Nations Global Compact and a former member of the governing board of the UNGC welcomed Ms Clark’s nomination:
“It is no secret that I would love to see Helen in the role for a range of reasons but no more so than the institution needs to be re-imagined and its brand needs to be strengthened. I think the UN has suffered an immense amount of damage in the minds of everyday people because of the ongoing number of crisis and while it may not be the UN’s fault they are certainly the focal point. I have to say its also time the UN was led by a woman.”
The new Secretary-General will be appointed at the end of the year by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the UN Security Council.
is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand. As Prime Minister she served three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008 and was the first woman elected at a general election as the Prime Minister, and was the fifth longest serving person to hold that office. She has been Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, the third-highest UN position, since 2009.
Clark graduated from the University of Auckland in 1974 and became politically active in the New Zealand Labour Party as a teenager. While a junior lecturer at the University in the early 1970s, Clark entered local politics in 1974 in Auckland but was not elected to any position. In 1975 she came second for Labour in the rural (and safe National) seat of Piako.
In 1981 she was elected to Parliament for the safe Labour seat of Mount Albert, a position she held until her resignation in 2009. Clark held numerous Cabinet positions in the Fourth Labour government of 1984–1990, including Minister of Housing, Minister of Health and Minister of Conservation. She was Deputy Prime Minister from 1989–1990 under Prime Ministers Geoffrey Palmer and Mike Moore.
After Labour's strong showing in the 1993 election, Clark challenged the Labour leadership of Mike Moore and won, becoming the Leader of the Opposition. After failing to win the 1996 election, she led the Labour Party to a sweeping victory in the 1999 election. As Prime Minister of the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand, Clark's government presided over nearly a decade of economic growth, while still maintaining a large government surplus.
Clark's government implemented several major economic initiatives including Kiwibank, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme and KiwiSaver. Her government's other major policies included the Working for Families package, increasing the minimum wage 5% a year, interest-free student loans, creation of District Health Boards, the introduction of a number of tax credits, overhauling the secondary school qualifications by introducing NCEA, and the introduction of fourteen weeks’ parental leave. Her government also introduced the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 which caused major controversy and was eventually repealed in 2011.
Clark sent troops to the Afghanistan War, but did not contribute combat troops to the Iraq War although some medical and engineering units were sent. Her agenda reflected the priorities of liberal internationalism, especially the promotion of democracy and human rights; the strengthening of the role of the United Nations; the advancement of antimilitarism and disarmament; and the encouragement of free trade. Clark advocated a number of free trade agreements with major trading partners, including becoming the first developed nation to sign such an agreement with China, and ordered a military deployment to the 2006 East Timorese crisis along side international partners.
Her government was defeated in the 2008 election and she resigned as Prime Minister and Labour Party leader. She resigned from Parliament in April 2009 from her Mount Albert electorate and was replaced by David Shearer to take up the post of Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.
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