The United Nations Medal was authorized by the Secretary General of the United Nations on July 20, 1959 for specific UN missions and actions. Originally established as the medal for the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), it was subsequently awarded for participation in the UN Observation Group in Lebanon and the UN Operation in the Congo. However, when it became apparent the UN would be involved in a substantial number of distinctive missions and operations, it was decided that those subsequent missions and actions would be recognized by a medal using the same medallion but with a distinctive ribbon. Executive Order 11139, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on January 7, 1964, authorized the Secretary of Defense to approve acceptance and wear of this medal by U.S. Service members who met criteria specified by the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Prior to October 13, 1995, all U.S. military personnel received this medal regardless of the actual UN ribbon awarded. On October 13, 1995, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) approved a change to the wearing policy of the United Nations Medal permitting U.S. personnel to wear the first medal (with its own distinctive ribbon) for which they qualify. A Subsequent award of a United Nations medal for a different mission is denoted by a bronze service star on the first ribbon authorized.
The United Nations Medal with this ribbon design was awarded to personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States who served for a period of not less than six months in any of the following United Nations operations:
The design of the medal was specified by the United Nations.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The order of precedence for wearing the United Nations Medal is set by the national government of the recipients. In the case of the United States, this medal is worn after the UN Korean Medal and before the NATO Medal for "Former Yugoslavia."
DEVICES Bronze Stars: Additional awards of any United Nations medal are denoted by bronze stars.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
Obverse The emblem of the United Nations is shown in the center of a bronze medallion. Above this emblem are the letters UN in the twelve o'clock position.
The reverse bears the inscription IN THE SERVICE / OF PEACE in two lines in the center of the medal.
The ribbon has a field of blue with two white stripes, each 3/32nds of an inch wide, 7/32nds of an inch in from each edge of the ribbon. These are the colors of the United Nations.