United Nations Service Medal

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United States Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

June 1, 2004

The Honorable Bill Nelson
United States Senate

Dear Senator Nelson:

This is in response to your letter of April 30 regarding your constituent John Gavel's request for information with regard to the awarding of the United Nations Service Medal.

In recent years the Military Staff Committee at USUN has initiated as well as served as a conduit for several requests for the award of UN medals to U.S. service members assigned to the UN Command (UNC) in Korea post-1954. In November 1999, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations clarified the United Nations policy in regard to the award of medals.

"The United Nations medal is awarded to personnel serving under the operational or tactical control of the United Nations. Personnel serving in a Security Council authorized mission that is not under the command and control of the United Nations are therefore not eligible for a United Nations Medal." The UNC in Korea since 1954 falls into the second category and thus military personnel assigned to the UNC are not eligible for the award.

In February 2003, after consultation with the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, Major General Patrick C. Cammaert, Military Adviser, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, reconfirmed that the UNC is not under the control of the United Nations and that there is no United Nations involvement in the conduct of military operations.

The United Nations reaffirms its position that the UNC (post-1954) was/is not under the control of the United Nations and believes a change in the eligibility criteria by eliminating that requirement will blur the distinction between UN-led missions conducted by blue helmets and UN-authorized missions conducted by multinational forces. The character and intent of the UN Service Medal is specifically designed to recognize the former military personnel serving in UN Peacekeeping missions.

The Department thanks Mr. Gavel and the thousands of other military members, for their service to our country as well as their service in the Republic of Korea.

Paul V. Kelly
Assistant Secretary
Legislative Affairs


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