UNITED NATIONS TRANSITIONAL AUTHORITY IN CAMBODIA (UNTAC)

Established by U.N. Security Council Resolution 745 passed on February 28, 1992, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) subsumed the the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNIMAC). UNIMAC was the first step in finding resolution to the ongoing Cambodian political turmoil and had been passed to oversee the implementation of the Agreements on a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict, commonly referred to as the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. They specified that the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, the ruling body of the State of Cambodia comprising the four major Cambodian political parties, was the nation’s sole legitimate ruling body and would be the source of authority during a transition to a government based on the principle of self-determination.

UNTAC became operational on March 15, 1992, and its mandate gave it some of the most sweeping authority ever exercised by a United Nations mission. Included in the mandate were observing and enforcing human-rights violations, organizing and conducting free and open elections, reorganizing the civil administration, maintaining law and order, repatriating and resettling refugees, and rehabilitating the country’s infrastructure. In effect, UNTAC assumed the administrative responsibilities for the entire country.

Following elections in May, 1993 that were almost universally considered to be the most fair and free in the country’s history, political maneuvering led to the establishment of a Provisional National Government of Cambodia which would include representatives from all four parties that had garnered votes in the election. The PNG’s Constituent Assembly placed former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk back on the throne, but this time as the head of a Constitutional Monarch; the Assembly ratified a Constitution by September, effectively ending UNTAC’s mission.

While UNTAC was not officially closed until November 15, 1993, the United Nations Medal for the mission is authorized for weary only by those members of the U.S. Military who took part between March 1, 1992 and September 30, 1993.
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