Helen Clark will spend the next week concentrating on an important appearance before the United Nations General Assembly to present her credentials as the potential Secretary-General of the UN.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed her nomination for the UN's top job at a press conference in Wellington this morning.

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As well as presenting herself and answering questions before the 193-country body, she must prepare a 2000-word vision statement.

In-between she will make a previously scheduled flying visit to Cairo as head of the UN Development Programme.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is now one of eight candidates who have been nominated by their countries to replace Ban Ki-moon when his term expires on December 31.

Others may emerge in the new few days.

The appointment will be made by the General Assembly later in the year, on no fixed date, on the recommendation of the Security Council.

Mr Ban was appointed in October in 2006, and his term began two months later.

Each candidate will have an individual session in public session before the General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York.

Next week's session will be a crucial test in their bids to show their talents and win favour for their candidacies.

The times have not yet been finalised but at this stage Helen Clark's provisional timing is set for late morning on Thursday, April 14, (New York time), which is about 3am, Friday April 15, in New Zealand.

It is not expected that the sessions will result in any formal resolution of a favourite but the forum is designed to inform the selection process.

The selection process will shift to the Security Council in July when the first straw vote -- by secret ballot -- will be held among the 15 council members.

There are no hard and fast rules but if voting is similar to previous selections, each of the 15 countries will be asked to give one of three verdicts on each of the candidates: encourage, discourage or no opinion.

Again in some previous straw polls, the ballots of the permanent five member-countries have been colour-coded red. If for example a candidate received five red "discourage" votes, that would be a clear sign to withdraw.

The five permanent members, United States, China, Russia, Britain and France, have the power to veto a final recommendation.

For the last appointment, there were three straw polls before Mr Ban emerged as the most acceptable candidate. On the final ballot, he had 13 "encourage", one "discourage" and one "no opinion".


HELEN CLARK'S STATEMENT TODAY ACCEPTING NOMINATION

I'm very, very honoured to receive the full backing of the New Zealand Government and by all the correspondence and traffic coming in, enormous support from the people of New Zealand.

New Zealand is a Pacific nation of great diversity, situated in a region of great diversity. New Zealanders have developed over time, our own way of getting along with each other and getting things done. The tradition of being tolerant, pragmatic and fair is part of who we are.

I'm running for Secretary-General because I believe that with this background, I can offer the style of leadership which is needed today. And which will help the United Nations meet the very serious challenges which lie ahead.

As one of the longest serving Prime Ministers of New Zealand, and now having been Leader of UNDP and Chair of the UN Development Group these past seven years, I believe I am the right person for the job.

New Zealand as this Pacific nation has a proud history of support for the United Nations, right from the very beginning of the drafting of the Charter. We need a UN which is up to the task of tackling the major challenges facing our world today and I believe I am the leader that is up to the task of leading the organisation. I want to do it because I am deeply committed to the ideals of the UN Charter and have supported it my whole adult life.

At its best, the position of UN Secretary-General is about giving a voice for the world's seven billion plus people who look to the UN for hope and support and inspiration. I do intend to run an accessible campaign and I look forward to engaging with the General Assembly next week and with the broader public in the weeks ahead. I will obviously be talking in more detail about the vision that I have for the organisation and my priorities in the coming period which I anticipate will be for quite some months.


CANDIDATES SO FAR:

• New Zealand: Former Prime Minister, current Administrator UN Development Fund Helen Clark

• Bulgaria: current Director-General of Unesco Irina Bokova

• Croatia: former Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic

• Macedonia: former Foreign Minister Dr Srgjan Kerim

• Moldova: former Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman

• Montenegro: Foreign Minister Igor Luksic

• Slovenia: former President Danilo Turk

• Portugal: former Prime Minister and UN High Commissioner of Refugees Antonio Guterres