Coy quip camouflages Ardern Appointment with Destiny
Winsomely deflecting the unspoken question posed on the nation’s independent free-to-air television TV3 morning talk show New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern declared spontaneously that she was aware of a rumour that she might resign and even move to “New Plymouth.”
Nobody dares to follow up this typically adept, humorous, and ironic trade mark diversion by doing a simple translation in which New York instead of New Plymouth is the actual destination.
Ironic because the New Zealand New Plymouth is the capital of the nation’s energy producing region and where the premier for the last five years has turned off the spigot on things like natural gas and oil.
Tremulously the mainstream media gingerly tip toes around the evidence that the prime minister is a putative candidate for the world’s most important bureaucratic job and which happens to be based in New York.
In her empathetic way the prime minister has joked about her early dreams to “save the world.”
She may soon be in the nominal position to accomplish it.
The current incumbent Antonio Guterres began his second and final four year term at the start of this year.
This means that the job becomes vacant at the end of 2026. No secretary general since Kurt Waldheim has sought to extend their job beyond the two four year terms.
What is Jacinda Ardern’s special appeal? Qualification?
It is her unrelenting priority given to climate. First foremost and always.
Ever since Boutros Boutros-Galli was vetoed for a second term because of the organisation’s failure to resolve violent conflicts in places like Africa and the Balkans the organisation has known it had to change its emphasis, change course.
This transformation was refined under Galli’s successor Ban Ki-moon who rearranged the organisation around environment in general and climate in particular.
This focus became even more concentrated, intense, under his successor, Antonio Guterres.
The original attempt by Jacinda Ardern’s mentor Helen Clark to secure the secretary-general post by using the New Zealand prime minister’s job as the leaping-off point came closer to fruition than most people realise with Ms Clark eventually heading the midfield in a list of highly qualified aspirants.
A problem for the former prime minister was that when she made her run it was still too early to identify the evolving consolidation around the new flagship cause and purpose.
In marketing terms it was a re-branding around a single product line.
The value became obvious when it allowed the gigantic global bureaucracy to skate over its shortcomings in matters of identifying plague and containing violent conflicts.
Ms Ardern from the outset hewed to climate as the identifying cause of our time.
She has refused to be distracted.
To helm the organisation a candidate needs to be nominated by their own country and this will be forthcoming regardless of the party in government at that time.
The key time frame is the cusp of 2026/27 when her ally Antonio Guterres ends his second term. She needs however to be up and running as a candidate quite some time before this to gain momentum.
The selection of the secretary general is the secular version of the papal election conclave. It only lacks the plume of smoke.
Does Ms Ardern follow Ms Clark and do an apprenticeship in New York similar to Ms Clark’s running the Development Programme?
The bubbling up of the camouflaged conjecture about the prime ministerial departure for places beginning with the word New is a conveniently ignored straw in the political wind.
Timing is everything in the high mountain tops of politics and bureaucracy and especially so if your ambition is to save the world.
The current muzzled speculation could point to a run starting toward the end of the Labour government current second term rather than during a third term.
An informed reason for the as yet publicly-unspecified speculation is that any candidacy by Ms Ardern is unlikely to be vetoed by the Security Council
This is because New Zealand has trodden a conspicuously non-aligned path.
Indeed there is cause for further speculation.
It is that if Ms Clark had actually succeeded in her bid to become secretary general and with her operational experience with China via for example her pioneering Free Trade Agreement then the present emergency in Europe, the real one, could have been averted.