NEW DELHI: Helen Clark, New Zealand’s Prime Minister for three terms and former head of the United Nations Development Programme, in conversation with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi discusses whether the UN Security Council taking over two months to discuss the pandemic proves it’s just a global talking shop and whether the world body is missing in action. She deplores the international, multilateral inaction and supports (along with dozens of former heads of state and government) ex-British PM Gordon Brown’s proposal for the G-20 to show its economic muscle. She also backs Dr David Nabarro, a special advisor on pandemics to former UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban ki-Moon to set up a world body immediately. The idea is for a pandemic emergency coordination council headed by the UNSG, the WHO DG and the heads of IMF and World Bank. The UNSG will coordinate responses with heads of state and government, the WHO with health ministers and the IMF & World Bank with Finance Ministers. The former Prime Minister praises Prime Narendra Modi, saying ‘SAARC led as a model for the world to show what a group of countries can achieve’. Ms Clark feels Beijing responded decisively once it identified the problem. Attacking the WHO is unfair, she feels, as it was crying fire long before most realised a fire was going to burn. On New Zealand’s response, the former Prime Minister believes there’s a real chance of eliminating the virus, not just containing it till a vaccine is available. On global responses, Ms Clark adds: ‘It’s between the devil (of public health responses) and the deep blue sea (of economic damage) and the former can’t be bungled if the latter must not be protracted.
Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms, from 1999–2008. In April 2009, Helen Clark became Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, the first woman to lead the organisation, and served two terms. At the same time, she was Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of all UN funds, programmes, agencies and departments working on development issues.