Helen Clark steps on people to get ahead? That passes the sniff test

Helen Clark and Trevir Mallard with Labour's biggest donor, Owen Glenn, at the opening of a University building Glen paid for.

Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard with Labour’s biggest donor, Owen Glenn, at the opening of a University building Glen paid for.

Helen Clark, the U.N.’s development czar, has emerged as a front-runner in the race for U.N. secretary-general, inspiring international hopes that a powerful woman could lead the world’s preeminent diplomatic organization for the first time. Back home in New Zealand, where Clark served as prime minister from December 1999 to November 2008, the teenage pop star Lorde declared she was “all in” for her “awe-inspiring fellow countrywoman.” Fans produced T-shirts proclaiming, “Aunty Helen for UN Secretary General.”

But many of her own U.N. colleagues are not rooting for her. Clark’s seven-year stewardship of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) has left a trail of embittered peers and subordinates, who accuse Clark of ruthlessly ending the careers of underlings in her quest to advance her candidacy and of undercutting the U.N.’s promotion of human rights. In the most controversial move, Clark’s top managers allegedly drove one UNDP official out of her job in retaliation for participating in an investigation that sharply criticized the agency’s response to mass atrocities in Sri Lanka, according to internal U.N. emails and several current and former U.N.-based officials and diplomats. The offices of the deputy U.N. secretary-general and a top aide to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon lobbied Clark’s office to rescue the UNDP official’s career, but they were unsuccessful.

That’s our Hels.  And that’s also why she’s better off with the job at the UN rather than coming back to New Zealand and sorting out the mess she left in her wake.  

One U.N. official raised concern in an email to a colleague that Clark had used her position to weaken some of the U.N.’s chief most important initiatives, and to veto any policy that challenged UNDP’s interests.

For instance, the official noted, Clark and her aides sought to dilute a key proposal to deploy teams of human rights experts and conflict specialists to countries beset by a sudden influx of violence. The idea was that these teams — operating under the authority of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N.’s top political adviser — would have greater freedom to promote human rights. But Clark’s team pushed back, demanding that the UNDP administrator provide “clear direction” to any such human rights team, according to an email from a UNDP official involved in the internal negotiations. Clark’s office also fought internally to ensure UNDP staffers secured most of the resident coordinator posts. Current or former staffers from UNDP currently have about 50 percent of such posts, far more than any other U.N. agency.

She is ruthless, brutal and only acts in her own interests.  The Labour Party was so gutted of current and future talent by Clark that almost a decade later, they are still flapping about like a fish caught on the mudflats at low tide.

You can be assured that when Clark makes it to secretary general, those critical of her today will not be with the UN for very long.


– Yahoo! News


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  • XCIA

    “Embittered peers and subordinates, who accuse Clark of ruthlessly ending the careers of underlings”. Way to go Aunty H cutting out all that dead wood. I’d like to see her really get going in the top job. No organisation deserves it more.

    • Wasapilot

      I wonder if far from cutting out the dead wood X, that she may have gotten rid of people with leadership potential, initiative and drive. Leaves only controllable drones, a la the labour party she left.

      • XCIA

        Of course that would have been part of the battle plan. H2 isn’t going to let anyone cut Aunty’s lunch.

      • Usaywot

        That’s what she did to the NZ Labour Party.

  • Don O’Brien

    “New Zealand sources have previously acknowledged that Clark is not universally popular at UNDP after leading a restructuring drive that saw more than 200 staffers at its New York headquarters sacked after inheriting an organisation that was top heavy with senior managers.”

    If the UN was top-heavy with Troughers, then that would explain some of the attacks on Clark. CEOs are alway going to be unpopular if they trim staff, as MarK Weldon found out.

    I am going to try to find some more details on the “200”.

    • Cadwallader

      She had to get rid of a number of staff to make room for Chris Carter, Charlie Shovel, and Heather Simpson. By this time next year she’ll need offices for Shearer, Little, Cunliffe and with any luck, Mallard, Adern, Hipkins etc.. Grant Robertson would be ideally suited to a New York lifestyle too.

      • Don O’Brien

        Carter was UNDP in Afghanistan, not New York

  • roblin

    Hope she get the top job so that she can destroy it, just like what she did with NZ labor..

  • sonovaMin

    Heh – ruthlessly ending the careers of underlings. That’s what they are there for aren’t they? To be stomped on. Rule number one in the leftists hand book.

  • Dave

    Yes she does, she rules with a kind smile whilst crushing anyone with an iron fist. Helen is one reason why the Labour Party is facing problems now, Helen was a “breaker” and didn’t develop or seek fresh talent to the party, hence still Zero leadership prospects, and one of her special underlings is more suited to the pages of Woman’s weekly. Shame really.

  • Ghost

    I have changed my mind about her becoming secretary general, perhaps if she can leave the UN in as much of a mess as the current labour party then maybe that will do the world a favour in the long run, I just hope its a long tenure, and delays the homecoming for another few decades.

  • Usaywot

    What is it with Helen? She has worked hard at lowering her voice to sound like a man, she is utterly ruthless in her drive to dominate and control. She brooks no criticism, has lied her way out of things e.g. traffic fines and gets rid of anyone around her who she sees as a threat. She has all the hallmarks of a dictator. She is either a complete narcissist or lacks self esteem.

  • Tiger

    Not sure if she had any say in Saudi Arabia getting the UN human rights chair , either way her organisation is a disgrace. Not democratic at all. History will judge her poorly as she squandered some great economic years in NZ in pursuit of her totalitarian wet dream.

  • venator

    I am not a big devotee of Helen Clark. This story is a weak piece of here-say journalism.
    – Who are you quoting ?
    – have you never noticed how idiots and under performers always dump on their boss
    – have you never noticed how advancement and increased performance is never easy and that there will always be people trampled over. Big business needs to be aggressive.

    Good on her for her achievements. Try not to be a Duncan Garner and demonstrate tall poppy hang-up.

    • JEL51

      Larry on zb carried an interview on this yesterday. Helen has some detractors, believe it or not.

  • Valid Point

    While I wouldn’t put her in the same class as Kirk, the damage Clark and her minion Cullen did to this country was up there. Defend her all you like. She was a blight on our history.

  • Jim460

    David Shearer. The UN, African dictators and Balkan warlords? No problem. But he was not ready to survive the Labour party.

    Helen Clark. Graduated from Labour and took even the world’s biggest and most unaccountable bureaucracy by surprise.

    NZ Labour. Truly world-class factional in-fighting.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    This seems to be a lot more than rumour or speculation as other world news services are reporting this with greater detail and the dilution of her battle to grab the top job. Is anybody really surprised that the MO remains the same and talented underlings should keep one eye on the door just in case opportunity knocks.

  • JEL51

    Oh heck! My good Leftie friend said…… “Helen Clarke is a good woman”..
    I so enjoyed this when Larry covered it yesterday. Not Our Helen. No way could she be seen in the same ‘distrusted’ category as Hillary. (smirk)