Guterres in, Clark concedes

After getting three ‘discourage’ votes from the five permanent members of the Security Council – any of which could veto her – Helen Clark has conceded she is out of the running for the position of United Nations Secretary General.

Clark has congratulated former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres as the ‘clear winner’ after he received no veto votes – he got 13 ‘encourage’ votes and 2 no opinion votes.

Congratulations Antonio . Clear winner in selection for . A longtime colleague: we were Prime Ministers & UN heads together:

A formal vote is now expected soon to confirm that the Security Council will recommend Guterres.


RNZ: Helen Clark’s bid to become UN Secretary General over

It has been as good as over for some time.

The 15-member Security Council cast secret ballots for each of the 10 candidates with the choices of encourage, discourage or no opinion. Guterres received 13 encourage votes and two no opinion votes.

“Today after our sixth straw poll we have a clear favorite and his name is Antonio Guterres,” Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters with his 14 council colleagues standing behind him.

“We have decided to go to a formal vote tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, and we hope it can be done by acclamation,” said Mr Churkin, who is council president for October.

For Mr Guterres to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly for election, the Security Council still needs to adopt a resolution behind closed doors. The resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes to pass.

It seems like the appointment of Guterres is pretty much a formality now.

From the World Federation of United Nations Associations:

WFUNA Congratulates the Next Secretary-General of the UN

After the release of the results of the sixth informal Straw Poll today, and a subsequent formal vote tomorrow, it appears that the United Nations Security Council has reached a decision on a candidate to be nominated to the General Assembly to assume the position of UN Secretary-General. The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) welcome this show of unity by the Security Council.

The forthcoming nomination of H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres comes after the candidate availed himself to the openness and transparency of the new process, engaging in a number of civil society debates and dialogues.

WFUNA count upon H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres to follow through on his many commitments made during this process. In particular, we look forward to the following:

  • The reconstitution of UN Agency mandates and priorities to place the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the core work of the entire system
  • The introduction of a time-bound, clearly defined roadmap with benchmarks to achieve full gender and regional equity for high-level positions in the United Nations system
  • The commitment by the United Nations system as a whole to ensure that there is no impunity for UN forces and staff who commit sexual exploitation and abuse, and the prioritization of the protection of civilians for all UN Peace Operations
  • The integration of human rights throughout each UN agency and UN mission, a continuation of the legacy of H.E. Ban Ki-Moon’s Human Rights up Front initiative, and an institutional recommitment to mass atrocity prevention
  • A complete institutional commitment to the Sustaining Peace agenda and a recommitment to preventative diplomacy at the highest political level
  • A new mechanism and approach to foster serious responsibility and burden sharing to deal with the unprecedented refugee crisis the world is currently facing
  • Outside the box thinking to deal with the world’s humanitarian crisis that leverages new funding that does not undermining previous development cooperation resources
  • Further protection for civil society around the world and for their access and inclusion to United Nations processes
  • A commitment to the role of youth as agents for change, with the acknowledgement that Youth should be involved in decision-making at all levels
  • An attitude of independence throughout his tenure as UN Secretary-General to ensure that the international community can be supported to best deal with the many crises and issues facing the world today

If voted in by the General Assembly, WFUNA looks forward to supporting H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres in his role, and will do the utmost to work with his office and the rest of the UN system to help deliver on these promises.

Kristilana Georgieva enters UN race

The contest for new United Nations Secretary General has been given a shake up with a new candidate stepping forward, Bulgarian Kristilana Georgieva.

This isn’t an unexpected move, it has been discussed and predicted, but Paddy Gower talks up the drama.

Newshub: UN race: Bulgaria swaps Irina Bokova for Kristilana Georgieva, likely hurting Helen Clark’s chances

Clark’s chances were already virtually hopeless.

Georgieva ticks both the ‘time for’ boxes, time for an Eastern European heading the UN, and time for a woman.

A global powerplay has rocked the race for United Nations with the last-minute entry of a new female candidate from Eastern Europe.

Bulgaria’s Kristilana Georgieva’s dramatic late decision to run can only be seen as a devastating blow for Helen Clark, who was already struggling.

Ms Georgieva, a former World Bank economist, is currently the budget chief at the European Union and has the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She is from Eastern Europe, which believes it is its turn to have the Secretary-General, and she would satisfy the push to have a woman in the role for the first time.

There was already a Bulgarian woman, Irina Bokova, in the contest but she has stood aside.

There has been a push to get Ms Georgieva in for some time, with Ms Merkel hitting up Russian President Vladamir Putin on the sidelines of the G20.

It is a clear move to get Ms Georgieva in before the next straw poll of the Security Council, which is the first meaningful poll because because vetos will be used for the first time.

With an archaic anomaly still in place any of the five permanent members of the Security Council can veto any candidate.

A source from inside Helen Clark’s team told Newshub “it is not quite over for Helen”.

Yeah, nah. Dreaming.

It looks likely that Ms Georgieva is the political solution and the ‘compromise candidate”’ acceptable to all countries that Ms Clark was hoping to be.

The next straw poll will give an indication of whether the new UN Secretary general has been jacked up behind the scenes or not.

Clark undeterred by another disappointing poll

Helen Clark says she will keep contesting the role of United Nations Secretary despite another disappointing straw poll.

She got one less discourage vote but still has seven, has only six encourage votes, and she dropped a place in the rankings.

In the four straw polls so far she has been ranked 6th, 7th, 7th and now 8th.

The latest poll (encourage-discourage-no opinion)

• Antonio Guterres, Portugal: 12 – 2 – 1
• Miroslav Lajcak, Slovakia: 10 – 4 – 1
• Vuk Jeremic, Serbia: 9 – 4 – 2
• Srgjan Kerim, Macedonia: 8 – 7 – 0
• Irina Bokova, Bulgaria: 7 – 5 – 3
• Danilo Turk, Slovenia: 7 – 6 – 2
• Susana Malcorra, Argentina: 7 – 7 – 1
• Helen Clark, New Zealand: 6 – 7 – 2
• Christiana Figueres, Costa Rica: 5 – 10 – 0
• Natalia Gherman, Moldova: 3 – 11 – 1

The last two must consider dropping out. If they do Clark would be struggling at the bottom.

NZ Herald reports Helen Clark to continue campaign after fourth UN Secretary General poll

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says she will remain in the contest to be the next Secretary General after a slight improvement in her results in the fourth straw poll of Security Council members.

In a statement, Clark said she was pleased with the improvement among a tight pack of candidates and her campaign will continue.

It remains very tough for Clark to get up from there.

UN Staff pick Clark

A poll of UN staff named Helen Clark as their top pick for the role of Secretary general.

Stuff reports Helen Clark preferred by United Nations staff to take over as Secretary General

The Huffington Post has said that when UN staff were asked to name their top three candidates for the job, Clark received 439 mentions. 

Her rivals, former Portuguese prime minister António Guterres, got 381. Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica got 340.

But that means nothing as far as the selection goes. The fourteen member Security Council effectively chooses the new Secretary General, and the five permanent members have veto power so have a disproportionate say.

After the last ‘secret’ straw poll Huffington Post asked Will Portugal’s Guterres Be The New UN Secretary-General?

To state the obvious, it appears former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres will be the next UN secretary-general to succeed Ban Ki-moon. But this is not a sure bet.

Guterres, the former spirited head of the UN refugee agency, has been in first place in three informal straw polls among the 15 members of the UN Security Council. But the voting has not yet distinguished between the five council members with veto power (United States, Russia, China, Britain, France) and the other 10 nations.

Guterres received 11 votes in favor, three against and one “no opinion”. In the first round last month, he had no negative votes. Diplomats believe Russia may have cast the negative vote. If so, this would throw the procedure into chaos and possibly a deadlock.

Surprisingly, Slovakia’s foreign minister, Miroslav Lajčák was in second place after finishing second to last in the previous straw poll, according to the supposedly secret results leaked to journalists within minutes.

And the women?

Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon who is in office until the end of 2016, said it was “high time” for a woman to hold his job after eight men in the post.

And Susana Malcorra told the Argentine newspaper Clarin there was still “a biased vote against women” at the United Nations. She noted that U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power was the only woman on the Security Council.

Led by Colombia’s Ambassador María Emma Mejía Vélez, about 56 nations have campaigned for a woman. And among those from Eastern Europe, only Irina Bokova of Bulgaria has a chance.

In sixth place was former Macedonian foreign minister Srgjan Kerim followed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who heads the U.N. Development Program. Both Malcorra and Clark had shown themselves extremely knowledgeable about UN affairs.

Results of Third Straw Poll
Candidate (Encourage-Discourage-No Opinion Expressed)
António Guterres 11-3-1
Miroslav Lajčák 9-5-1
Irina Bokova 7-5-3
Vuk Jeremić; 7-5-3
Susana Malcorra 7-7-1
Srgjan Kerim 6-7-2
Helen Clark 6-8-1
Danilo Turk 5-6-4
Natalia Gherman 2-12-1
Christina Figueres 2-12-1
Igor Lukšić Withdrew
Vesna Pusić Withdrew

Eight is a lot of ‘discourage’ votes for Clark to overcome. At this stage it looks like she will stay in the race.

After the staff poll (from Stuff):

Clark said on LinkedIn that she was pleased with this result but that there’s still a long way to go. 

“I said at the outset that this campaign would be a marathon, not a sprint, and so it has proved to be.”


Was Clark’s UN bid ever realistic?

Helen Clark’s bid for UN Secretary general has been talked up in New Zealand, but did she ever have a realistic chance of getting the job?

Two things in particular seem to have ruled against her – that she doesn’t come from Eastern Europe (there’s a lot of talk about it being ‘their turn’), and the risk that she wouldn’t be compliant enough for the large powers who don’t want to be dictated to by the UN.

Andrea Vance writes that Helen Clark’s UN bid is fantasy land stuff:

God loves a trier. The United Nations, it appears, does not.

Helen Clark is doggedly continuing with her quixotic bid to succeed Ban-Ki Moon as secretary-general.

Inspiring? Possibly. Realistic? Absolutely not.

…to maintain the fairytale – at vast expense to the New Zealand taxpayer – is misguided.

I guess it depends on the reasoning behind giving Clark’s bid strong support.

So, why is the Government persisting with this fairytale? Firstly, the Government believes it is an achievement that benefits New Zealand.

It might give New Zealand some feel good bragging rights but the UN is supposed to benefit the world, not the country the Secretary general comes from.

Key argues Clark is the best person for the job and should be appointed on merit. He might be right, but it’s pretty hard to take from a Government that has just retired moribund ex-minister Maurice Williamson into a plum Los-Angeles trade post.

Fair point on hypocrisy – when politics is involved merit is a fairly loose term.

And it’s delusional. The UN might like the idea of a woman, but it absolutely does not want a reformer.

It’s even doubtful the few countries who make the decision like the idea of a woman, going by the initial straw polls that strongly favour men.

The P5 countries – the ultimate decision makers – want a bureaucrat who will not challenge them.

It’s no surprise that the biggest powers make decisions that suit their own selfish interests, not the good of the world as a whole.

World leaders are not ready to be bossed around by a woman from a tiny country on the far edge of Earth. They may never be ready.

The selection process is ridiculous, but is a symptom of a major flaw with the United Nations – the Secretary general is appointed on the recommendation of the Security Council, which has just 15 members, one of which is currently New Zealand.

And the Security Council is dominated by five permanent members- the USA, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia (the main victors of World War 2). Each of them has veto power, which is used to stifle the effectiveness of the UN.

And these permanent members have the power to stifle the leadership of the UN by ensuring a compliant candidate is recommended and ‘chosen’.

So Clark may never have been a realistic chance.

Will Clark pull out of UN bid?

It sounds like Helen Clark’s bid for UN Secretary General is just about over. Comment has moved to if/when she withdraws from the contest.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff: Is Helen Clark’s UN bid sunk?

Helen Clark’s dream to lead the United Nations is slipping from her grasp.

In the hours after the latest United Nations straw poll delivered a potentially mortal blow to her prospects Clark took to twitter to reassure her followers it was too early to jump to conclusions. But there is mounting expectation within the Government hierarchy that Clark will pull the plug on her campaign.

The odds were always against Clark getting the job. But the weekend vote has almost put those odds beyond reach. Clark came seventh in a field of 11, well behind the front runner, former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Gueterres, who by some reports has the job nearly in his grasp.

Clark won’t be the only one weighing up her options. The government has thrown its backing behind her bid, assigning a hand picked team of diplomats to Clark’s campaign. Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully have also put their shoulders behind the wheel on Clark’s behalf, glad-handing their international counterparts to stitch up support. Their support is genuine – they see Clark as an instrument for overdue change at the UN.

But some countries appear to have been talking out of both sides of their mouth, since their assurances of support don’t seem to tally with the number of votes for Clark in the latest round. And crucially, Clark doesn’t appear to have the backing of big guns like the United States and Russia.

Clark has given her bid her best shot, with the full and active support of the New Zealand Government.

But it was probably always going to be difficult to succeed in the world of international and United Nations politics.

It was worth a shot, but it looks like Clark has missed her biggest target.

Newstalk ZB: Margaret Besheer: Helen Clark will likely stay on fighting

UN Correspondent Margaret Besheer from Voice of America told Andrew Dickens her placing isn’t a good sign and it wouldn’t be unusual for her to pull out now, but she thinks she’ll stay fighting.

“The first round showed us that she wasn’t really in favour to begin with. She wasn’t a top front-runner, she wasn’t in the top three or four. I think a lot of people were surprised by that, but I think they did expect her to do better in the first round.

“Helen’s really a career politician, she’s a fighter, she’s used to polls being up one day and down the next – I think she might hang in there for one more round.”

Perhaps there’s still a chance of Clark being seen as a compromise candidate.

Helen Clark fails another UN ballot

Helen Clark has again failed to feature in the top five in the latest ‘secret ballot’ (that’s farcical) for the next United Nations Secretary General.

In the first ballot Clark was ranked sixth. Since then one candidate has dropped out, leaving eleven for now.

RNZ: Clark not in top five after UN secret ballot

Helen Clark has failed to rank among the top five candidates for the next United Nations Secretary General in the latest secret ballot, diplomats say.

Just how Helen Clark fared is not yet known.

Going into the first straw poll last month, the former prime minister was considered one of the favourites, but she came a disappointing sixth.

Several other straw polls will be held before the council’s choice is put before the General Assembly for a final vote, which is expected in October.

The top five:

  1. Antonio Guterres (former Portuguese Prime Minister)
  2. Vuk Jeremic (former Serbian Foreign Minister)  up to second
  3. Susana Malcorra (Argentinian Foreign Minister)
  4. Danilo Turk (former Slovenian President)
  5. Irina Bokova (from Bulgaria, the director-general of UNESCO)

This is a secret so please don’t tell anyone.

Stuff: Clark’s big UN blow

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: – the results are:

  1. Guterres 11-2-2 (encourage, neutral, discourage)
  2. Jeremic 8-3-4
  3. Malcoora 8-1-6
  4. Turk 7-3-5
  5. Bokova 7-1-7
  6. Kerim 6-2-7
  7. Clark 6-1-8
  8. Figueres 5-2-8
  9. Gherman 3-2-10
  10. Luksic 2-4-9
  11. Lajcak 2-7-6

Dropping from 6 to 7 doesn’t look great for Clark.

Maori Party versus Helen Clark

The Maori Party MPs have stirred a few people up by refusing to back Helen Clark’s bid for the United Nations Secretary General.

NZ Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said today that Labour did not support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP) and it introduced the Foreshore and Seabed Act.

Fox said on Radio New Zealand that Clark should apologise to show she had learned from her “mistakes”.

“I would think at the very least somebody who is seeking the top role of the UN would also have the foresight and the ability to look back at those past mistakes, acknowledge them and move on and until she does, how can we be supportive of that role?”

Andrew Little and Winston Peters have slammed this.

Andrew Little…

…said Fox’s comments were disappointing.

“Helen Clark is widely known internationally, representative of New Zealand. This a great opportunity for a New Zealander to take one of the prime roles in international and diplomatic affairs.

“Every New Zealander should be behind that and I think it, frankly, stinks that the Maori Party say they are not going to support it.”

Labour have seemed to thinks that the Maori party stinks for competing with Labour for Maori votes since they split.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters…

…says the Maori Party is being “treacherous” in saying it does not support Helen Clark’s bid to become UN Secretary General.

“It is petty grand standing without any principle,” he said. “the reality is the Maori Party is desperately appearing to be relevant.”

“It is treacherous in the extreme,” he said.

Peters may be angling for a job as Minister of Irony. Petty grand standing without any principle is something Peters should be very familiar with, if he is self aware.

Helen Clark said in a statement…

…that New Zealand fully supported the negotiations on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We asked for more time to improve the Declaration to make it fully capable of implementation in all countries.

“At that time we were concerned that some aspects of the UNDRIP cut across New Zealand’s constitutional framework and legal system.

“New Zealand was however at the forefront of implementing most of the rights in the UNDRIP.

“was pleased to see that the Government was able to support the Declaration in 2010.”

Te Ururoa defended the Maori Party stand on Breakfast this morning.

“There should be a part of Helen Clark that knows she needs to apologise to Maori.”

“It’s a contradiction for her to stand up there but to not supported the rights of indigenous people here in NZ”

And Marama Fox on the Paul Henry Show:

“We’ve not supported Helen Clark for a number of months…”

“We’re not supporting any candidate over another.I’d love to see a Kiwi…and a woman in the position…but we just can’t support

“The UN Sec General is responsible for crises across the world.. and a lot of those are indigenous matters”

“If we’re going to have someone as a UN Sec General we need to have someone that understands the rights of indigenous people”

The Maori Party are free to support or not support whoever they like. Backing Clark for UN Secretary General is not compulsory in New Zealand’s democracy.

Helen Clark in UN debate

Helen Clark joined none others who are vying for the top job in a televised debate from the United Nations. By a number of accounts (from new Zealand) she acquitted herself very well.

But world politics and selection of the UN Secretary General  is a lot more complicated than debating well in public.

Helen Clark aced the UN debate – but that’s not what will get her the top job

It’s a historic occasion – the first ever televised debate between candidates for the United Nations top job and one which played to Helen Clark’s strengths. No one would have been left doubting how much Clark wanted the title of Secretary General – her desire to step into Ban Ki-moon’s shoes was so strong you could almost taste it.

But that was not just true of Clark – climate change czar Christiana Figueres was impressive on sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, and Argentinian Susana Malcorra was as sure-footed as anyone who has spent years working the UN system should be. Any one of them could step into the job tomorrow and hit the ground running.

But the people who will ultimately decide the next UN secretary general probably weren’t even watching.

The decision will ultimately come down to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – US, Britain, China, Russia and France – and some of them appear to prefer other candidates, which further raises the odds.

But despite that Clark is regularly touted as the frontrunner and that has ruffled feathers.

Tony Wright at Newshub rates the performances in UN debate – how did Helen Clark and her fellow candidates rate?

Helen Clark (New Zealand, heads the UN Development Programme) 9/10

Ms Clark had the advantage of being the only candidate to speak in her main language, and her English was indeed excellent.

She received warm applause after every response, when most other candidates did not.

She was measured but strong and knowledgeable on subjects such as the sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, on the refugee crisis and on fixing the myriad of broken systems within the UN.

Moreover, she had a concrete plan to fix most issues and seemed to be the ‘fan favourite’ of the debate, even getting the crowd to laugh.

Overall, Ms Clark was very impressive and the best of the ten candidates on show.

Christiana Figueres (Moldova, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) 8/10

The debate’s other outstanding candidate just behind Helen Clark, Ms Figueres showed she is made of stern stuff, with a forthright approach lacking from most on stage.

Very strong on climate change and the refugee crisis and claimed said she had zero tolerance for UN peace keepers who abuse their status.

Ms Figueres announced herself as Ms Clark’s main competition for the post of UN Secretary-General.

Those two are well clear of the rest in online polls following the debate.

Vuk Jeremic (Serbia, former President of the UN General Assembly) 7/10

Mr Jeremic claimed to have written his own 54-point-manifesto on how the UN should be run, and said the UN had become stagnate and was failing.

At times, he seemed almost arrogant and certainly backed himself to make a great Secretary-General.

Was big on conflict prevention, saying there should be less paper shuffling in New York and more engagement on the ground.

Supports reform of the UN Security Council and says he is committed to women’s rights.

Mr Jeremic was by far the best of the male candidates

Irina Bokova (Bulgaria, Director of UNESCO) 6/10

Ms Bokova is considered one of the favourites and Ms Clark’s biggest rival.

I expected more from her and I think the UN General Assembly did as well.

She spoke of the need for greater investment in education and of the empowerment of young women, but a lot of her thoughts appeared obvious and uninspired.

The others:

  • Vesnar Pusic (Former deputy PM of Croatia) 5/10
    “Not a strong presence on the podium by any stretch”
  • Antonio Guterres (Former PM of Portugal) 6/10
    “…started strong but stumbled towards the end”
  • Susana Malcorra (Foreign Minister of Argentina) 5/10
    “struggled to get her points across at times and would have been largely disappointed with her time at the podium”
  • Natalia Gherman (Former deputy PM of Moldova) 5/10
    “not sure the General Assembly warmed to her at all”
  • Igor Luksic (Former PM of Montenegro) 4/10
    “probably the worst candidate on show”
  • Danilo Turk (Former President of Slovenia) 5/10
    “hardly made an impact by stating the obvious”

– their summaries at UN debate – how did Helen Clark and her fellow candidates rate?

Helen Clark a bookies favourtire

Helen Clark’s chances of becoming the next United Nations Secretary General have improved according to UK bookie William Hill.

UK bookmakers William Hill have cut Helen Clark to her shortest odds yet to become UN Secretary General.

In mid-April, after her candidacy was confirmed, William Hill had Ms Clark at Clark was given odds of 7/2, or a 22% chance of winning.

Bulgarian politician and director general of UN agency Unesco, Irina Bokova, was given the same odds.

But an effective social media campaign and public “job interview” saw Ms Clark emerge as the 2/1 favourite.

Overnight, William Hill said the New Zealander had received further betting support and was now the odds-on favourite at 6/4.

“Political punters see this contest as a two-horse race with Clark well clear of the field at the moment,” William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe says.

And the second-placed horse is fading on the home straight. Ms Borkova has drifted out from 9/4 to 5/2.

Clark’s bid is supported by the National led government and presumably by the other parties, and would do New Zealand proud.