‘A Caribbean perspective’

‘A Caribbean perspective’

Former new Zealand PM seeks support from Caricom in bid for UN top job

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is lobbying Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries as she seeks to replace Ban Ki-moon as the next secretary general of the United Nations.

Clark, who is the administrator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is considered the front-runner among the 12 candidates vying to replace Ban, who is ending his second consecutive five-year term of office at the end of the year.

Clark, who is here for the launch of the UNDP’s Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean 2016, told the
Caribbean Media Corporation ( CMC) that coming from a "small country" she would be fully aware of the problems facing small island states like those in the Caribbean.

"From a Caribbean perspective, you would know that you have an incoming secretary general who is very immersed in the issues of the small island developing states. As a New Zealander I come out of a region where the majority of nations are small island developing states with a number of issues and challenges similar to those of the Caribbean, not entirely identical… but certainly an immersion in the issues and development solutions," she told CMC.

The UN, established in the wake of World War II in 1945, has had eight secretaries general in its more than 70 years of existence — all of them have been men.

Last week, the outgoing secretary general said he should be replaced by a woman, noting that it is "high time" a woman lead the multinational organisation.

"We have many distinguished and eminent women leaders in national governments or other organisations or even business communities, political communities, and cultural and every aspect of our life," Ban told the
Associated Press, adding "there’s no reason why not in the United Nations".

Ban also argued his successor should be able to represent minorities.

Apart from Clark, the other female candidates in the race are UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, former Moldovan Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman, former executive-eeneral of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Costa Rican Christina Figueres, and the foreign minister of Argentina Susana Malcorra.

"There have been many, many voices for a woman secretary general. The secretary general added his voice to that (and) at the last (UN) General Assembly many heads of government, including from the Latin America and Caribbean region, came to New York and say it should be a woman. So there has been a strong view for that." Let’s see what happens," Clark told

She said that she has been holding discussions with Caribbean diplomats based in the United States "and they have been, I think, generally pretty interested in the candidacy of someone from a region with so many small island developing states."

But she said while the decision to replace the outgoing Secretary General will ultimately be taken by the 15-member UN security council "we hope they are listening to the broader membership".

"Next week is a very big week at the UN General Assembly when leaders come from around the world (and) the subject of the selection of a secretary general will be one of the biggest topics at the session," she added.

The process involves a vote among the UN Security Council — the permanent members include the United States, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and China with 10 rotating, non-permanent member states — where a candidate is recommended to the General Assembly.

Caribbean countries have in the past called for a reform of the United Nations and St Vincent and the Grenadines recently announced that it would be seeking a position on the UN Security Council as one of the non-permanent members.

Clarke acknowledged that, while the Caribbean is made up of many small countries, each country has a vote and that makes the Caribbean a very important vote bloc in the United Nations.

"If we take the whole small island developing state family together, they have weight of numbers that really matters. So, the coordination across the Caribbean, across the small island developing state is how to get the voice amplified and heard," she told

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