United Nations Missions to Haiti
What is interesting about the United Nations Mission In Haiti (UNMIH) Medal is that a number of bronze bars have been instituted by the United Nations to denote the various missions in Haiti over the last few years. The UN medal for service in Haiti is one of the very few UN medals with bars. It is certainly the first with multiple bars. As the Haiti missions unfolded, the UN changed the mandate as well as the name of the mission. In the past, a new medal ribbon is created with every UN mandate. This happened in Cambodia and Rwanda, with some personnel returned home with two medals in a six month period because they changed the name of the mission. So it appears that the UN tried to prevent that in Haiti by keeping the original UNMIH ribbon and creating bars to identify service with the follow on missions. To date, there are three known bars for this medal: UNMIH, UNSMIH and UNTMIH (UN Transition Mission In Haiti).
1. United Nations Mission to Haiti (UNMIH) - Originally established to help implement certain provisions of the Governors Island Agreement signed by the Haitian parties on 3 July 1993. In UNMIH’s mandate was to assist in modernizing the armed forces of Haiti and establishing a new police force. That mandate could not be carried out due to the non-cooperation of the Haitian military authorities. Later, The Security Council by its Resolution 940 of 31 July 1993 approved the establishment of an advance team of UNMIH to institute the appropriate means of coordination with the multinational force, to carry out the monitoring of the operations of the force, to assess requirements and to prepare for the deployment of UNMIH upon completion of the mission of the multinational force. Established in September, 1993 and replaced in June, 1996 by UNSMIH. The mission was established to assist the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) and its associated International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH) in restoring the democratic institutional framework in Haiti with special attention to the observance of the rights to life, the integrity and security of the person, personal liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of association. The mandate also called for assistance in the modernization of the armed forces, establishment of a new police force, and technical assistance in the organization of free and fair elections. On July 1, 1996. UNMIH was replaced by a smaller successor mission, the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) with virtually the same mandate but with emphasis on the training of a professional police force and providing assistance in the rebuilding of the country's infrastructure. Maximum strength of UNMIH was in 1995, when there were 6,065 military personnel and 847 civilian police officers. Countries participating were: Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Canada, Djibouti, France, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Mali, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, St.Kitts & Nevis, St.Lucia, Suriname, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, and the United States. Participating personnel received the UNMIH medal only. The colour combination for the ribbon for the medal and bars consists of the royal blue and red of the Republic of Haiti, bordered by the UN blue with two white lines denoting friendship between the two.
2. United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH) - Established in July 1996 and replaced by the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) in August 1997. In June of 1996, with the successful conclusion of national elections and the election of President Preval, the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping effort known as UNMIH was terminated. Responding to a request from the new Haitian Government for additional support, the UN Secretary General proposed a new, smaller operation, the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH). The new mission's primary purpose is to help Haiti consolidate the gains already made in professionalizing the Haitian National Police and reaffirm the desire to return the nation to a state of stability. Maximum strength of this mission has been 1,300 military personnel, 300 civilian police plus approximately 400 local staff. Countries providing military assistance are: Bangladesh, Canada, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago. Countries providing a civilian police component are: Algeria, Canada, Djibouti, France, Mali, Russian Federation and Togo.
3. United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti (UNTMIH) Replaced UNSMIH in August 1997 and ended in December 1997.
As a matter of fact, there might be a 4th bar available! After UNTMIH the military pulled out but the police remained. The mission was renamed "UN Civilian Police Mission in Haiti" (English translation of the French name for the mission - MIPONUH). MIPONUH United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti Figures as of 31 October 1998 (UNCPMIH) There are still five Canadian Forces personnel there to maintain and drive the Canadian Bison APC's for the UN police. The question is, did the UN create a new ribbon or create another bar?
There is no distinctive marking on the undress ribbon to indicate bars to this medal. You would have to approach every person wearing the Haiti ribbon to determine if they had bars or not! Of further note, the people that served only with Op Pivot do not wear the UNMIH bar on their ribbon. Only multi-bar recipients can wear the UNMIH bar! I guess the reasoning is that the ribbon itself is the UNMIH ribbon therefore no bar is required. From what I have seen, the bars are very cheaply made, and are fastened to the ribbon with two long bendable pins on the back which break off easily. Scott Laird filed the back of his bar smooth and drilled holes in the four corners of the bar so that it could be sewn on; similar to the SSM bars. The bars are, at this time anyway, difficult to get replacements for.
Another twist to this story occured when, as usual, the UN notified Canada of the institution of a new UN medal ribbon and Canada dutifully added the medal to the Canadian honours system. However the UN forgot to mention the bars. So, technically the UN bars for the UNMIH medal are not authorized for wear by CF members! I got this info from an Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) member who tried to apply for his bars when he returned to Canada from Haiti. (He served with two missions UNSMIH and UNTMIH.) He got the run around from Rideau Hall. A clerk said they would turn a blind eye to the technicality. There are quite a few CF members with the Haiti bars glued to the ribbon as is common practice by tailors. It would cost alot of money to remount these medals. (Ref: Scott Laird). Scott has been awarded the following medals: UNDOF, UNSMIH and Canadian Forces Decoration and Bar.
Here is a run down of the different Canadian OP's and UN missions in Haiti. Info may not be 100% correct.
Op Pivot - Apr 95 - Sep 95, UNMIH - Single rotaion of units. No bars awarded.
Op Pivot -, Roto 1, Oct 95 - Mar 96, UNMIH - Single rotation of units. No bar awarded.
Note: Op Pivot was an air force operation, when the army took over the op name was changed to Op Standard
Op Standard - Apr 96 - Jul 96 UNMIH
Op Stable - Jul 96 - Sep 97 UNSMIH
NOTE: Op Standard/Stable Apr 96 - Sep 97 was a single rotation of units. Members entitled to two bars: UNMIH and UNSMIH
Op Stable, Roto 1 - Oct 96 - Mar 97 UNSMIH
NOTE: Roto 1 was a single rotation of units. Members entitled to UNSMIH bar only.
Op Stable - Roto 2, Apr 97 - Jul 97, UNSMIH
Op Constable - Aug 97 - Sep 97, UNTMIH
NOTE: Roto 2 and a portion of Op Constable was a single rotation. Members entitled to UNSMIH and UNTMIH bars. UNTMIH was downsized fron UNSMIH and personnel started leaving in early Aug 97.
Op Constable - Roto 1, Oct - Nov 97, UNTMIH
NOTE: Single rotation of units. Members entitled to UNTMIH bar only.
Op Compliment MIPONUH(UNCPMIH), Dec 97 to present
NOTE: 5 Canadian Forces members on strength.
I have been extremely fortunate in finding a UN Medal for service in Haiti with three bars. The group belongs to Sgt J.M. Gendron, CD a Canadian Forces radio operator. Sgt Gendron has also been awarded the Special Service Medal (NATO/OTAN Bar), UNEF II, UNDOF, UNIFIL, UNPROFOR, UNMIH (3 Bars - UNMIH UNSMIH UMTMIH), and the Canadian Forces Decoration. Quite an impressive group of United Nations medals. The three bars for Haiti were awarded for the following service:
- UNMIH - For OP STANDARD (Apr 96 - Jun 96)
- UNSMIH - For OP STABLE (Jul 96 - Sep 96)
- UNTMIH - For OP CONSTABLE (Sep 97 - Dec 97)
- United Nations Medals and Mission - The Medals and Ribbons of the United Nations by Lawrence H. Borts
- Various e-mails/images from Scott Laird
- Sgt. J.M. Gendron
- Capt D. Audet