By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
I very much hope that Helen Clark becomes the new UN Secretary-General. As Prime Minister of New Zealand, she showed enormous political courage in keeping New Zealand out of the Iraq war, despite immense pressure on her from the UK, US and Australia. This pressure included the threat that New Zealand would be excluded from the intelligence sharing agreements between these powers. Given New Zealand’s history, Iraq was a big decision, and Helen Clark got it exactly right.
She has shown similar judgement in running the UN Development Programme, where she has won much respect for paying as much attention to the views of African nations as to the “authorities” of the IMF and World Bank.
For these reasons Clark is not the preferred candidate of the US or UK governments for the Secretary General position. But her independence does mean she is ultimately acceptable to Russia and China, whose agreement is essential as the appointment is confirmed by the Security Council. The Russians in particular feel they made a mistake in agreeing to the disappointing Ban Ki-Moon last time.
Finally may I be permitted to suggest that answer no. 5 here gives a further example of Helen Clark’s excellent political judgement?