Helen Clark says students must become global citizens

07 April 2014
Helen clark 1

Students hoping to work for the United Nations should be prepared to start out in the world’s most troubled areas, according to former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who spoke at the University of Auckland on 1 April.

Clark, who is now Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, gave a lecture at the Fisher & Paykel Auditorium entitled “Access to justice and the rule of law in the new global development agenda”.

She encouraged students to think beyond the New Zealand “microcosm” and ensure they are exploring issues worldwide.

“It’s so important we educate for global citizenship,” she said.

The event was co-hosted by the Human Rights Lawyers Association and the New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice, which is a specialist centre based at the Faculty of Law.

There was high interest in the lecture with the audience filling the auditorium and spilling over into a second lecture theatre where Clark’s presentation was streamed live.

Her talk explored the links between access to justice and sustainable development, and she shared examples of the UNDP's work to strengthen justice systems and legally empower the poor in more than 100 countries, many of them affected by conflict.

From mobile courts of justice in remote areas of Somalia, to training 1000 judges, police prosecutors and criminal investigators in Mozambique, she showed the UNDP’s work was far-reaching.

“We work to set up good systems and processes in developing countries but we’re not in the business of telling people what’s good or bad – we give them a range of development options,” Clark said.

However that work is also carried out in difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances.

“There’s not a week that goes by without harrowing experiences, and some weeks are worse than others,” she said.
“Be prepared to go to tough assignments.”

Clark also participated in a question and answer session and stayed behind talking with students and other guests after the lecture had concluded.

The Dean of Law, Andrew Stockley, introduced the former Prime Minister, and said the University was delighted to host her lecture.

“Her influence on New Zealand and in the international development community is profound and enduring.”

View the photo gallery from the evening here.  

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