31 March 2009

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Biographical Note


of United Nations Development Programme


On 26 March, it was announced that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), wrote to the President of the General Assembly requesting the General Assembly to confirm Helen Clark of New Zealand as the new Administrator of UNDP.  The General Assembly confirmed the nomination on 31 March.  Ms. Clark replaces Kemal Derviş for a term of four years.

The Secretary-General is deeply grateful to Mr. Derviş for the services he has rendered to the Organization and for so ably leading the UNDP at a critical juncture.  The Secretary-General is particularly appreciative of the great leadership displayed by Mr. Derviş in the implementation of his mandate.

Ms. Clark’s nomination was made at the end of an extensive selection process, which included the establishment of a senior appointments panel chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and consisting of senior United Nations officials, as well as two outside experts in financial and developmental economics.  The panel was composed in a manner to reflect a combination of required expertise and skills, as well as gender and geographical balance.  The panel was entrusted with interviewing the shortlisted candidates and recommending the finalists for the Secretary-General’s consideration.

Selected amongst a group of excellent candidates for her outstanding qualifications and numerous accomplishments in her long career, Ms. Clark has the needed leadership and international recognition that would allow her, as the new Administrator, to build on her predecessors’ legacy.  In addition, she would bring a strategic perspective coupled with fresh thinking and impetus for change.  She is expected to bring to the UNDP and the United Nations system her well-honed consensus-building skills and commitment to the multilateral approach to addressing global financial and development issues.

Ms. Clark has been a member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1981 and was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008.  Concurrently she held a number of other portfolios, including Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.  In Government, she led her country’s policy debate on a wide range of economic, social, environmental, and cultural issues, including sustainability and climate change, and the development of an inclusive multicultural and multi-faith society.  She was also a very active leader of her country’s international relations at the bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.  She has been a strong supporter of development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in her region.

Between 1984 and 1987, Ms. Clark served as Chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee.  From 1987 to 1990, she was first Minister for Housing and Minister for Conservation, and then Minister for Health, Minister for Labour and Deputy Prime Minister.  In those capacities, she prioritized affordable housing, protection of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity, primary health care and public health, and gender equity in employment.

Born in 1950 in New Zealand, Ms. Clark is married to Professor Peter Davis.  She was educated at Auckland University, where she studied political studies and history, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1971 and a Master of Arts (Hons) in 1974.

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