Former New Zealand leader Helen Clark to leave UN

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2017 11:41 PM
Former New Zealand leader Helen Clark to leave UN

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark told her staff on Thursday that she's stepping down from her senior role at the United Nations when her term expires in April.

The move comes three months after Clark failed in her bid to land the U.N.'s top job.

Clark has headed the U.N. Development Program for the past seven years. The 66-year-old wrote a message to staff saying she was leaving April 19 at the conclusion of her second four-year term.

"These are times of change across the UN system," Clark wrote. She said that making progress on sustainable development goals "must continue unabated."

The U.N. goals include ending poverty and taking action to combat climate change.

Clark was one of 13 candidates who last year competed to replace Ban Ki-moon, whose 10-year tenure as U.N. secretary-general ended in December. But Clark never gained much traction in the race, which was won by former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres.

Guterres begins his term with the organization facing hostility from new U.S. President Donald Trump.

Last month, Trump wrote on Twitter that "The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!"

Clark's spokeswoman Christina LoNigro said she didn't know what Clark's future plans were and that Clark wasn't giving interviews at this time.

Clark was first elected to New Zealand's Parliament at age 31. She served nine years as prime minister, from 1999 until 2008. The following year she became the first woman administrator of the U.N. Development Program.