Helen Clark out of UN Secretary General race


Prime Minister John Key says he's disappointed Helen Clark has failed in her bid for the United Nations Secretary-General job, but he's not surprised with the result.

Former Portugese prime minister Antonio Guterres has secured the role, after none of the five UN Security Council veto-powers voted against him in a sixth secret ballot.

"Right from the get go you could see that Guterres had no virtually discourages and could always be a compromise candidate," says Mr Key.

Ms Clark conceded defeat this morning and offered her congratulations to Mr Guterres on Twitter.

"Congratulations Antonio #Guterres. Clear winner in selection for #NextSG. A longtime colleague: we were Prime Ministers & UN heads together," she wrote on Twitter.

Ms Clark received three vetoes against her from five of the permanent Security Council members.

"She was always going to pick up two. The Russians would always veto her because they were always going to veto anyone who wasn't either European or eastern European and the French tend to veto unless you are a native French speaker," says Mr Key.

"We were a bit fearful she was going to get a third veto and while you never really know where that comes from I think there was a bit of a feeling of a deal being done."

Despite the disappointing result, Mr Key stands by the former Labour Party leader and says she was the right person for the job.

"In Helen Clark we have had the best chance we've probably ever had of having a person that had the UN credentials as the head of UNDP and Prime Ministerial pedigree."

He says the chances of Ms Clark being able to run again for the position are low.

"Helen is in her mid-sixties so realistically the Sec Gen gets a 10 year gig. I think she'd be thinking by the time it came up again she might give it a go but I reckon she would be thinking that will be quite a stretch. "

However Former Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon says this is far from the end of Ms Clark's UN career.

"She is clearly a good friend of Antonio Guterres there are always many, many ad hoc one off jobs that a Secretary General wants people to do."

"A person of Helen's calibre, experience and expertise.. To use her in a one off situation is probably more valuable that just having a senior civil servant trying to do the same job on a permanent basis."

The Prime Minister is yet to speak to Helen Clark on the phone but he says he has sent her a text.

"I think she will be thinking, what is the next step for her as an individual, what is she going to do next."

In a statement, Ms Clark said: "Antonio has the knowledge and experience to lead the United Nations well, and I wish him every success."

She has also thanked many members of Parliament and the public who have thrown their full support behind her bid.

"To all who supported my campaign, I thank you for your confidence in me and your many messages of support and encouragement."

For Mr Guterres to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly for election, the Security Council still needs to adopt a resolution behind closed doors. The resolution needs at least nine votes in favour and no vetoes to pass.

Mr Guterres is expected to be formally appointed tomorrow.