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Clark urges UN to address conflict

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/07/2016
Helen Clark © Getty Images Helen Clark

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark says the United Nations needs to do better at its job of preventing conflict.

Ten of the 12 candidates in the running to be the next UN secretary-general are taking part in a "global town hall" debate, which is being broadcast by Al Jazeera live on TV and online.

It's the first time those vying for the UN's top job have taken part in such an event, with the appointment process usually happening behind closed doors.

In her opening statement, Miss Clark said the UN is falling short when it comes to maintaining peace and security.

"We have to get better at preventing conflict and resolving conflict," she said.

"I believe that the long term answers lie in building the peaceful and inclusive societies which will talk their differences out and not fight them out.

"But in the short term we have to get a lot better at anticipating those warning signs of what could spill over into serious human rights abuses and conflict."

Miss Clark also slapped down the UN's geographical rotation principle, which tends to guide the appointment of the secretary-general.

"My country belongs to a grouping for electoral purposes at the UN called western Europe and others group," she said.

"I'm from the others and sometimes I think WEOG should stand for western European and orphans, because my little country is from the South Pacific and it's never had a secretary-general either.

"I really think that when we look at the scale of the challenges our world is facing, we need a global search for the best talent."

Based on the geographical rotation principle, it's widely tipped the next secretary-general will be from Eastern Europe.

Miss Clark and the other candidates also faced questions about refugees, reforming the Security Council and the UN, and peacekeeping.

The UN secretary-general is appointed by the Security Council, on the recommendation of the General Assembly.

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