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New Zealand's Helen Clark joins race for top UN position

A woman has yet to lead the UN - something former premier Helen Clark is seeking to change. Three other women are in the running, but New Zealand's prime minister says Clark's experience will be hard to match.

New Zealand nominated ex-premier Helen Clark to become the next UN secretary-general, Prime Minister John Key announced Monday.

"Having served as the prime minister of New Zealand for nine years and held one of the top jobs in the United Nations for the past seven, Helen Clark has the right mix of skills and experience for the job," Key said.

Listen to audio 04:36

Who's going to succeed Ban Ki-moon?

Clark, who served as New Zealand's prime minister from 1999 to 2008, has headed the UN Development Program (UNDP) since 2009.

She is in the running with seven other candidates, including UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria, Croatian ex-Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic and Natalia Gherman, the former finance minister of Moldova.

After two five-year terms, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's departure comes at a time of growing discord within the international community on how to deal the largest

displacement of people

since World War II and the civil war in Syria.

"There are major global challenges facing the world today and the United Nations needs a proven leader who can be pragmatic and effective," Key noted.

"Helen Clark has a vast amount of experience in international affairs which will be hard for other candidates to match," the premier added.

Ex-UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres of Portugal, Montegro's Foreign Minister Igor Luksic, former Slovenian President Danilo Turk and ex-Macedonian Foreign Minister Srgjan Kerim are also vying for the UN's top position.

ls/bw (Reuters, AFP)

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