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Helen Clark Reaches for Top UN Post

Helen Clark is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a senior United Nations official.

Helen Clark is the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and a senior United Nations official.

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is a candidate to become the first woman secretary-general of the United Nations.

Clark is among eight candidates for the office, according to the New York Times. Four are men; four are women.

Clark, 66, served as the prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008.

As prime minister, Clark was wildly popular. She increased the minimum wage in New Zealand, offered student loans at zero interest, and signed a trade agreement with China.

She started out growing up on a farm and became the first in her family to go to college.

She starred in a Travel Channel tour of New Zealand, leading viewers around her country. She introduced the world to New Zealand with a televised mountain climb, a bungee jump off a bridge, and an overnight camping trip.

She was also a guest star of a soap opera in New Zealand, called Shortland Street.

Clark is a big user of social media. Her Twitter page, @HelenClarkUNDP, has more than 119,000 followers.

In 2009, she was voted the greatest living New Zealander in a New Zealand Herald poll.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called Clark a “proven leader” and added that “her entire life has been dedicated to foreign policy. That’s been her area of great passion and interest.”

She has been the top official in the United Nations Development Program since 2009.

Clark said she would try to reform the U.N. She wants the world body to refocus its efforts stopping civil wars and extremists.

The other women being considered are: Irina Bokova of Bulgaria; Natalia Gherman of Moldova, and Vesna Pusic of Croatia.

More candidates could be added during the next few months.

Many members of the U.N. are advocating for the secretary-general position to go to a woman. Russia wants the next U.N. secretary-general to come from Eastern Europe, according to VOA News.

The U.N. General Assembly will conduct public hearings for the candidates next week.

The new secretary-general will take over for Ban Ki-moon. He will step down in December after serving two five-year terms.

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

The staff at VOA News wrote this story. Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Do you think Helen Clark would make a good secretary-general of the United Nations? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

dedicatedadj. having very strong support for or loyalty to a person, group or cause

passionn. a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

hearingsn. meetings or sessions at which evidence and arguments about a crime, complaint or issue are presented to a person or group who will have to decide on what action should be taken

advocatev. to support or argue for a cause, person or a policy

soap operan. a television program that has continuing stories about the daily lives and problems of a group of people

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