Helen Clark begins first day as Administrator of UNDP

Apr 20, 2009

Today, Helen Clark began her first day as the new Administrator of UNDP.  She will spend her first week meeting with UNDP senior management, UN officials and Permanent Representatives to the United Nations, as well as getting acquainted with staff.

"I am looking forward to leading UNDP at this critical time. I have a commitment to tackling poverty and injustice, and I regard it as an enormous privilege to tackle these issues at the international level,” Clark said after she was approved. 

Miss Clark, of New Zealand, was unanimously approved by the UN General Assembly to as the new Administrator on 31 March 2009 for a term of four years.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon nominated Helen Clark to replace outgoing Administrator Kemal Derviş of Turkey.   
“Helen Clark was selected, amongst a group of excellent candidates, for her outstanding qualifications and numerous accomplishments in her long career,” said Michelle Montas, the Secretary-General spokesperson, in an official statement when she announced the appointment.

“Miss Clark has the needed leadership and international recognition that would allow her as the new Administrator to build on her predecessors’ legacy,” said Ms. Montas,   “In addition, she will bring a strategic perspective coupled with fresh thinking and impetus for change.”  

Helen Clark has been a member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1981, and was Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008.  Concurrently she held a number of other portfolios including Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage.  She has been a strong supporter of development and the achievement of the MDGs.

In government Helen Clark 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 bilateral, regional, and multilateral levels.

Between 1984 and 1987 she served as Chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee.  From 1987 – 1990, she served as first Minister of Housing and Minister of Conservation, and then as Minister of Health, Minister of Labour, and Deputy Prime Minister.   

In these capacities, she prioritised 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, Helen Clark is married to Professor Peter Davis.  Miss Clark was educated at Auckland University where she studied Political Studies and History.  

She graduated with a BA in 1971 and MA (Hons) in 1974.

Additional information

Contact InformationIn New York:
Christina Lonigro, Press Officer to the Administrator: christina.lonigro@undp.org; Tel: +1.212.906.5301

UNDP Around the world