Helen Clark says she is ready for the biggest challenge of her political career - trying to secure the United Nation's most powerful job.

And as the former PM's campaign heats up, she has revealed she has no "Plan B" career-wise.

Clark is one of 12 contenders in the running for the UN's Secretary-General spot; seeking to become the first woman and first New Zealander to hold the position.

The successful applicant is to be confirmed by October.


In an exclusive interview with Mindfood, the 66-year-old said she was fully prepared for what it took to lodge a successful bid, and what awaited if she got the job.

"Everything I've ever done has involved another set of challenges," she said.

"I like a challenge and unquestionably the peace and security challenge is one of the biggest as the lives of a lot of people are at stake."

Clark joined the race for the job in April, with her bid being backed by the New Zealand Government, which said it would fund her campaign to the tune of "hundreds of thousands" of dollars.

Deliberations began 10 days ago among the 15 members of the Security Council over their preferred candidate.

Portugal's former PM, Antonio Guterres, topped the council's initial straw poll ranking contenders, and Clark secured fourth spot.

Further polls will be taken before the Security Council makes its recommendation to the UN General Assembly by October.

The assembly will then decide whether to formally accept the recommended candidate.

As contenders continue to make their pitches, Clark said the power of diplomacy would be one of her campaigning points.

As Secretary-General, she said, "you need to be very engaged".

"You need to pick up the phone, send envoys in, try everything you can to have 'jaw jaw' and not 'war war'.

"Once things tip over into conflict, it can be very, very hard to stop."

Clark believed well- targeted development programmes could reduce the risk of lawlessness and extremism in some states.

"You get these no-go zones where extremist groups can take root and flourish, so addressing the causes of violent extremism and terrorism brings us back to these investments," she told Mindfood.

Clark said it was important the UN was relevant to a younger generation, including engaging with them on social media.

She has become prolific on social media and has more than 90,000 Facebook and 130,000 followers on Twitter and recently added Snapchat.

"You have to continually renovate, reinvent, innovate and take new generations with you," she said.

"In my parents' generation, young people were sent away to war or the home front. It's ancient history to youth. We have to make the UN something that engages with them."

Clark also revealed her focus was 100 per cent on getting the job, saying she had no fall-back if her bid was unsuccessful.

"I'll devise a Plan B if I need to," she said.

"At the moment there is only Plan A."

The latest edition of Mindfood goes on sale tomorrow