Key says Clark has 'skills and experience' for UN's top post

A diplomatic campaign to support the nomination kicks into gear. With special feature audio.

Prime Minister John Key has officially kicked off Helen Clark’s campaign to become the next UN secretary-general.

The nomination means Ms Clark can present her credentials to the UN General Assembly along with other candidates in a beauty parade from April 12.

Ms Clark, who has been administrator of UN Development Programme for the past seven years, will be up against Bulgaria’s Irina Bokova, who runs another major UN agency, Unesco, among half a dozen or so other declared candidates.

"I'm running because I believe my style of leadership is needed and will help the United Nations face the serious challenges ahead," she told a media conference in New York this morning.

She says she is not campaigning as a woman but because she is "the best person for the job."

"Our world is facing so many crises and challenges and I think the background, experiences, pragmatism and focus I have are what the UN needs right now.

"The UN needs to be organisationally effective if it has to carry out its mission. As an administration it can be a little old-fashioned and clunky. I think I can bring a modernising touch to that."

Backing for campaign
Announcing the nomination, Mr Key says the campaign will be backed by New Zealand diplomats and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Helen has the right mix of skills and experience for the job," he says.

“She is well placed to bridge divisions and indeed to get results. There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective."

Ms Clark was prime minister for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008.

“She 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.

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. 

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