United Nations Medal

United Nations Medal

The term United Nations Medal refers to one of several international decorations which are issued by the United Nations (U.N.) to the various militaries of the world for participation in joint international military and police operations such as peacekeeping, humanitarian efforts, and disaster relief. A United Nations Medal is ranked in most militaries and police forces as a service medal, meaning that it is not issued for a specific heroic or meritorious act, but rather for general participation in a broad operation.

United Nations Medal

The most common United Nations Medal is the standard U.N. decoration known simply as the "United Nations Medal". Most countries bestow this award for any action in which a member of the military participated in a joint U.N. activity. In situations where a service member participated in multiple U.N. operations, service stars or campaign clasps are authorized as attachments to the United Nations Medal.

United Nations Korea Medal

The first United Nations Medal to be created was the United Nations Service Medal, also known as the "UNITED NATIONS SERVICE MEDAL KOREA", which was awarded by the United Nations to all countries which aided South Korea during the years of the Korean War. Since 1955, over two dozen additional United Nations Medals have been created by the U.N. and awarded for participation in various United Nations actions around the world. The United Nations Headquarters Medal is normally issued for service of at least 90 days at the New York Headquarters.

United Nations Campaign Ribbons

The United Nations also issues an entire series of campaign specific United Nations Medals, each for a different activity or operation. In most nations, the standard United Nations Medal is awarded in lieu of a campaign specific medal.


In some countries where the UN Security Council determines a mission in the same geographic region, but changes the mission mandate by way of Security Council Resolution, there may be a number of Missions which have identical campaign ribbons and then later will change the ribbon to reflect the changing environment.

For example in East Timor, UNAMET, UNTAET and UNMISET all carry the same ribbon bar, whilst UNOTIL and UNMIT have a UN Special Services campaign with clasp denoting area of prescribed service.

France, Australia & New Zealand

Some nations, such as France, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand permit members of the military and police to receive and display multiple United Nations Medals as separate decorations.

United Kingdom

Other countries, in particular the United Kingdom, permit a service member to receive the relevant United Nations Medal and authorization for it to be worn is given by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Numerals may be added to denote multiple tours to one mission, the medals are worn in order of award and take precedence alongside British campaign medals.

United States Armed Forces

In the United States armed forces, Prior to 13 October 1995, all US Military personnel wore the blue and white United Nations Ribbon regardless of the ribbon awarded. On 13 October 1995, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) approved a change to the wear policy of the United Nations Medal. Effective on that date, personnel who are awarded the United Nations Medal may wear the first medal and ribbon for which they qualify, adding a bronze service star for subsequent awards of the United Nations Medal for service in a different mission. No more than one UN medal or ribbon may be worn at a time.


Since the United Nations Medal is an international decoration, it is ranked in most militaries and police forces as a foreign award and displayed after all decorations of a service member’s particular military force.

Other related Awards

Other international awards include the NATO Medal, the Multinational Force and Observers Medal, the 2001 International Year of Volunteers Medal, and the Inter-American Defense Board Medal. Australia has the Australian Active Service Medal, the Australian Service Medal, the Police Overseas Service Medal and the Humanatarian Overseas Service Medal to compliment the United Nations Medal.

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