5 Apr 2016

Clark feels 'stadium of 4 million' back her

2:04 pm on 5 April 2016

Helen Clark will now launch her campaign for the UN's top job in earnest and feels she has a "stadium of four million people" in New Zealand backing her.

Prime Minister John Key this morning announced the government had nominated his former political opponent for the role of UN Secretary General, saying she was well placed to bridge divisions and to get results.

Helen Clark

Helen Clark Photo: AFP

Speaking from New York to Nine to Noon, the former Labour prime minister said she appreciated the support of the New Zealand government.

"Going by the messages that are flooding in now I'm kind of feeling that the stadium of four million people might be with me as well," she said.

Now her bid had been launched, the 66-year-old would begin campaigning.

"I would expect, having largely cleared my diary ... to be able to mount a lot of public outreach, a lot of outreach to all the key capitals."

The Security Council would listen closely to member states, and the range of groupings in the General Assembly would have an effect.

But this was the first time the contest had been held in the era of "full blooded" social media.

"So the world's people have a view on this as well - many views probably.

"So I think it's going to be a very intense few months. And who knows what the result will be.

"But I think I'm the best person for the job and the New Zealand government believes I'm the best person for the job so I'm going to give it my best shot."

Watch John Key announce Helen Clark's nomination:

The UN General Assembly will hold informal discussions with declared candidates next week and before then, Ms Clark will submit a vision statement.

One of her priorities was to ensure the UN's efforts on peace and security are relevant to our times.

When the UN charter was drafted it was about ending war between nations, but today, she said, the main conflicts were terrible civil wars and violence from non-state actors and extremists.

"We need different tools to deal with this. I strongly believe that the whole UN toolkit has to come into play right across our political, peace building, development, human rights, humanitarian tools. We have to act as one team in trying to head off conflict and disaster and really try to build a peaceful and inclusive society the world's people need."

The 15-member UN Security Council, including veto powers China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France, will recommend a candidate for election by the General Assembly later this year.

Ms Clark is the second Western candidate, after Portugal's Antonio Guterres, and the fourth woman to enter the race after current director general of UNESCO Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Natalia Gherman (Moldova) and Vesna Pusic (Croatia).

Slovenia's Danilo Turk, Srgian Kerim of Macedonia and Igor Luksic of Montenegro are also in the running.

A former New Zealand representative to the United Nations said it will be crucial for Ms Clark to win the support of the five permanent members on the Security Council.

Michael Powles - who was at the United Nations from 1996 to 2001 - said any of the five permanent members, such as Russia or China, could veto a nominee.

"Each of whom have to support the candidate. And then it goes to the General Assembly and the General Assembly will endorse the appointment. So it's not a complicated procedure, but what is extremely complicated is really the kind of dark workings that go on in the background."

Mr Powles said in the past, the five permanent security council members have not favoured an outspoken secretary general.