Helen Clark elected president of Chatham House

The former New Zealand prime minister and Head of UN Development Programme has been elected president of Chatham House.

News release Published 23 July 2021 Updated 17 August 2021 1 minute READ

Press Office

Former New Zealand prime minister and Head of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, has been elected president of Chatham House.

Ms Clark will replace former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Sir John Major, who is retiring from the role. She will join Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller and Lord Darling as one of the institute’s three serving presidents.

Helen Clark was prime minister of New Zealand from 1999-2008. She then became the 8th and first female administrator of the UN Development Programme, completing two terms from 2009-2017.  

She is actively engaged in important international issues that are central to the institute’s priorities. She is currently chairing the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response with former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which was convened by the World Health Organization last year and has just completed its main report. Her expertise extends to sustainable development, tackling climate change and developments in the Asia-Pacific.

Chatham House Director Robin Niblett welcomed the appointment:

‘We are excited to have found someone with the high-level political experience and who shares the strong reputation for integrity that Sir John enjoys. Helen Clark is highly regarded around the world for her past and current endeavours. Her election also underscores the institute’s global outlook and priorities, which she is so well qualified to help guide.’

Ms Clark was elected at the Annual General Meeting of Chatham House on 20 July which also marked the last official engagement for Lord O’Neill, who has now handed over to Sir Nigel Sheinwald as Chair of the institute.

Chatham House is delighted that Sir John Major will remain affiliated with the institute as president emeritus, and that Lord O’Neill will become a member of the institute’s panel of senior advisers.