A headline I never thought I would see

The NBR headline:

Helen Clark melts Key’s and Farrar’s hearts, but all wrong for UN Secretary General

In the story:

Mr Farrar says he’s surprised himself by becoming an enthusiastic backer of Ms Clark’s campaign.

He notes that as head of the United Nations Development Programme (the third-highest ranked role in the UN), the former Labour prime minister has achieved what was hitherto thought impossible: she managed to cut staff numbers, a feat that required buy-in from 60 countries as she wrestled with a quota-based staffing system.


The problem is that the selection of the next Secretary-General is controlled by the “P5” or the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of whom have veto power over candidates.

All will appreciate Ms Clark’s skills as an effective manager in her role, he says.

“But when it comes to the big job, they want a former foreign minister. They want someone who will do what they say. They don’t want a former prime minister like Helen Clark who could be dangerously independent.”

And countries don’t just want a yes-man (or indeed, yes-woman) but their yes-man. Russia wants someone from Eastern Europe. France has traditionally plumped for a candidate who can speak French.

And the US have a preferred candidate.

Mr Farrar says she should throw in the towel.

He says while there is still a theoretical chance she could win – if, say, the US vetoed every other candidate – realistically, the dream is over.


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