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United Nations

New Zealand's Helen Clark steps aside from UN development agency

The first woman to lead the UN's largest agency has announced she will step down after eight years in office. She told her staff to continue fighting for the agency's goals despite "times of change across the UN system."

New Zealand's former Prime Minister Helen Clark on Wednesday told her staff that she will be stepping down as the head of the UN Development Program (UNDP) in April.

Clark, who assumed the role in 2009, told her staff in an email that "these are times of change across the UN system."

However, making progress toward sustainable development goals, which include ending poverty and combating climate change, "must continue unabated," she added.

She gained international recognition for becoming the first woman to lead the UN's largest agency after serving as New Zealand's premier from 1999 to 2008.

 Last year, she competed against 12 other candidates to succeed ex-UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which she lost to Portugal's former Prime Minister Antonio Guterres.

Tough times ahead

Clark's resignation comes at a tumultuous time for the transnational organization.

US President Donald Trump last month criticized the UN, describing it as a "club for people to get together, talk and have a good time."

French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal and the UK's former Foreign Minister David Milliband have been tipped as possible successors to run the UNDP.

Guterres, the new UN secretary general, is expected to make a series of appointments to key positions at the organization.

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ls/rc (AFP, AP)

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