'Peace matters to women': Helen Clark launches campaign to lead UN

Helen Clark is in the running to become the first female UN secretary general. Photo / AP
Helen Clark is in the running to become the first female UN secretary general. Photo / AP

New Zealand's former prime minister Helen Clark was in Paris this week at the start of a tour of key world capitals in her campaign to head the United Nations.

Although Clark would become the first woman to hold the top job at the world body, she told AFP she had "never asked for supporters because I'm a woman."

But the former three-term prime minister added: "Of course I am a woman, and I bring that perspective to a job."

"It holds generally true that women carry a broad range of family responsibilities" and give priority to health and education, said Clark, 66.

As such, women are a vector for peace and stability, she said, stressing: "Peace really matters to women."

Clark has headed the largest UN agency, the UN Development Programme, which implements the body's worldwide economic development operations, since 2009.

Clark plans to push her bid in each of the capitals of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- France, Britain, the United States, Russia and China -- the main gatekeepers in the process.

She and three other women are among the nine candidates so far in the running to succeed Ban Ki-moon of South Korea.

Bulgaria's Irina Bokova, head of the UN cultural agency UNESCO, is considered a strong contender and would be the first UN chief from eastern Europe, the only region that has yet to be represented in the top job.

Given an unwritten rule of regional rotation to fill the post, Clark may be at a disadvantage being from the same Asia-Pacific region as Ban.

But she said "this time the member states are looking more at the scale of what is needed" in a secretary-general, adding that she offered "pragmatic and effective" leadership.

The UN Security Council is expected to begin a round of straw polls in July to nominate a candidate.

The General Assembly is expected to endorse the choice in October, and the successful candidate will begin work on January 1, 2017.

- AFP

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