…Helen Clark. And I’m not just saying this because she’s a New Zealander. Here are my reasons:
- There has never been a female Secretary-General of the UN, and yet the UN itself is committed to “gender mainstreaming” – sooner or later the UN will have to have a women on top. This gives Clark a potential advantage over other candidates who are male. To me this is the key reason to predict this. The UN has already had Secretary-Generals from African, Arabian, Asian, Latin American, and European countries but they have all been men, so while they cannot be accused of being Eurocentric they can be accused of being sexist. I’m sure that the big powers are aware of this and will look to do something about it.
- She has the right experience. In her current role as head of the UNDP she is already near the top of the UN hierarchy. Foreign Policy Magazine recently called her the “most powerful woman you have never heard of,” although seeing as she was Prime Minister of my country for nearly a decade I had, in fact, heard of her. Between leading a country and running the UNDP she surely has enough experience in global politics for the role.
- New Zealand is inoffensive (to most people). New Zealanders have headed up international institutions before: former Prime Minister Mike Moore was Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, while former Foreign Minister Sir Don McKinnon was Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations. Diplomatically speaking, New Zealand has managed to generally tread enough of an independent path to not be accused of being a big power lackey, but managed to not ever get anyone too offside. Of course being small, isolated, and stable probably helps this. Being a New Zealander should make Clark palatable to both the Security Council (who recommend candidates for the position) and the General Assembly (who vote on it).
So that’s my prediction. I wonder if there’s any bookies taking bets on this sort of thing. Probably not, and if there are they probably aren’t the sort I want to deal with.