THE UNITED NATIONS MEDAL (ONUC)

Obverse: The United Nations global projection emblem, above which are the letters “UN”.

Reverse: Plain, with the legend “IN THE SERVICE OF PEACE”.

Size: 35mm in diameter.

Ribbon: 35mm wide, the ribbon for this medal awarded for service in the Congo was originally a UN blue and white ribbon with a bar indicating Congo service. In 1963 it was decided that a distinctive ribbon should be issued. The ribbon subsequently awarded carries a broad centre band of green, symbolic of hope which was thought to be appropriate for a young nation, and also to represent the Congo Basin. The centre band is flanked by two 2mm white bands, representing the UN Mission and at either edge are two 6mm bars of UN blue. Three months of service in the Mission was necessary to qualify for award of the medal.

Suspension: The ribbon is threaded through a 12mm diameter ring, which passes through a loop fixed to the top of the piece. The ring will move forwards and backwards.

United Nations Operations in the Congo, July 1960 to June 1964. (The acronym derives from the French, Operation des Nations Units au Congo.) This operation was carried out in an endeavour to halt the civil war that was taking place in the Congo (now Zaire) following them gaining independence from Belgium in 1960. ONUC was, at that time, the largest mission established by the UN, comprising a military force of nearly 20,000 personnel. They became involved in a confused and violent civil war that cost the lives of 234 ONUC personnel. The maximum strength of ONUC was 19,828 personnel. New Zealand military observers were seconded from UNTSO when ONUC was first established.