Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Helen Clark's CV gets timely boost

Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and senior United Nations official, speaks during an interview in New York. Photo / AP
Helen Clark, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and senior United Nations official, speaks during an interview in New York. Photo / AP

Helen Clark's credentials have been given a timely boost in the lead up to her two-hour session with the UN General Assembly as part of her audition for the Secretary General role.

The UN Development Programme that Ms Clark heads has topped the global Aid Transparency Index for the second year running.

That was announced yesterday by Publish What You Find, a non-profit organisation that measures transparency in the use of aid money by major organisations and aid donor countries.

It will be a further feather in Clark's cap as she prepares to go before the General Assembly at 3am Friday (NZ time) to deliver an address and take questions from the member states on her bid to take the UN's top job.

In response to the result in the Aid Transparency Index result, Ms Clark said the UNDP was working hard to share information on its interventions. "The developing countries we serve have a right to know how development funding is being used in their countries.

All those who place funding through the UNDP are also entitled to know how we are handling the monies entrusted to us."

Clark has also presented her written vision statement to the UN, in which she talks about the need for United Nations to adapt so it could meet the challenges it now faced, from environmental impacts to terrorism and civil wars. She also spoke of the need for a UN leadership that could "mobilise political momentum" for development goals. One of Clark's advantages is that she is not seen as beholden to the major powers and her vision statement refers to the need to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the UN. She also appears to refer to the allegations of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, sayig the UN's symbol of the Blue Helmet and the Blue Beret "must be beacons of hope, relief and peace."

"We must work to enhance, and where necessary restore, the United Nations reputation in the field."

One of her key rivals, Bulgarian Irina Bokova, had her session with the General Assembly two days ago in which she focused on the UN's role in international security and peace. Bokova dodged a question on the Ukraine but was otherwise seen as putting in a capable performance in which she spoke in English, French and Spanish.

Bokova, the head of Unesco, is seen as the favoured candidate of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and considered one of the front runners partly because she is from Eastern Europe, which has never held the post before.

This is the first time the candidates for the UN Secretary General have had to publicly present themselves to the Security Council, part of a move for the process of appointment to be more open and public. While the support of other countries will have some moral weight, it will be up to the Security Council to decide on the final candidate and the five permanent members can veto any candidate they do not like.

Helen Clark will deliver her address to the UN General Assembly at 3am Friday. It can be watched here: http://webtv.un.org/

- NZ Herald

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