Helen Clark, New Zealand’s former leader, sets sights on top UN job

New Zealand's former leader hints that she could be the one to succeed Ban Ki-moon

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 9:57pm


Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark has hinted that she wants to become UN secretary general when Ban Ki-moon steps down, saying it is time for a woman to fill the role.

Clark, who led New Zealand from 1999-2008, is currently head of the UN Development Programme, making her No3 at the world body.

"It's time for women to have held all top jobs," she replied when New Zealand media travelling in New York with her successor John Key asked her if she wanted Ban's job after his second term expires in 2016.

The 64-year-old refused to explicitly state whether or not she would stand, saying it was too early to speculate and she was concentrating on her existing role.

"I often used to say at home, I only had one job in front of me at a time and that was doing the best you can in the job you've got, and this is a big job," she said.

The 192-member UN General Assembly unanimously elected Ban for a second term in 2011 after the South Korean ran unopposed. He could stand again, as there is no limit on the five-year terms a secretary general can serve, although in practice none has gone beyond two.

Earlier this week, Clark told Fairfax New Zealand media that 2016 loomed as a watershed year for women, particularly if Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for the US presidency, as is widely expected, and if a woman becomes chief of the UN.

"I think the women of the world will be screaming 'yes'. It will be a year when a woman is making a very strong bid for the US presidency.

"There's a woman at the International Monetary Fund [Christine Lagarde], a woman at the Federal Reserve [Janet Yellen], there's a lot of last bastions being stormed by women, so the time will come when women say, 'What about the UN'?"