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New Zealand wants Jamaica's CARICOM influence for its candidate for UN top post

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Jamaica's political influence in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is being sought by New Zealand to support that country's candidate for the post of secretary general of the United Nations (UN), the global organisation set up 70 years ago to promote world peace.

Helen Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister and current administrator for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is seeking to replace the South Korean Ban Ki-moon, who has been in the post since 2006.

Jan Henderson, the New Zealand high commissioner for the Caribbean, told The Gleaner yesterday that her country feels that getting Jamaica's support could make it easier to convince the rest of the 15-member CARICOM bloc.

"I think Jamaica is very influential in the region and in the world. We're looking for support right across the region," Henderson said.

She added: "We're very keen to promote her candidacy. In her capacity as head of the UNDP, she (Clark) has worked very much for small-island developing states, for concessional finance, for climate change, and so we think she would make a very good secretary general and we're looking for broad support across the region."

Henderson was speaking at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Guyana.

It's expected that several of the candidates for the top UN post will be vying for Jamaica's support.

There could be talks between the Jamaican delegation here and the New Zealand ambassador over the lobbying for support.

Clark served as prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008 and has been the head of the UNDP for the past seven years.

In May, her office was forced to deny allegations that she was an autocratic leader. Clark has been criticised for a restructuring at the UNDP's New York, United States headquarters that reportedly saw 200 staffers fired, Australia's Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

Clark and 10 others will be contesting for the post, a first in the UN's history. Usually, the Security Council recommends to the General Assembly the person to be appointed to the post.

Argentine Susana Malcorra, a former chief of staff to Ban Ki-moon, whose term ends on December 31, is the only candidate so far from the Americas.

An unofficial vote is expected on July 21.

No woman has been chief of the UN since its establishment in 1945.

The secretary general is the UN's top diplomat and chief administrative officer.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com