Commander's Diaries - Australian Contingent ASC - United Nations Transitional Authority Cambodia UNTAC

Accession Number AWM399
Collection type Official Record
Object type Paper document
Maker Commonwealth Government of Australia
Date made 1991 - 1993
Conflict Cambodia (UNTAC), 1992-1993

Item copyright: Commonwealth of Australia copyright

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The United Nations Transitional Authority Cambodia (UNTAC) was established to ensure the implementation of the United Nations negotiated “Agreements on a comprehensive political settlement of the Cambodia conflict” signed in Paris, 23 October 1991, later known as the Paris Agreement 1991. The mandate included aspects relating to human rights, the organisation and conduct of elections, military arrangements, civil administration, maintenance of law and order, repatriation and resettlement of refugees and displaced persons, and rehabilitation of Cambodia infrastructure.

UNTAC's military component consisted of 16,000 personnel drawn from 32 countries. The Force Commander of this highly demanding and complex operation was the Australian Lieutenant General John Murray Sanderson AC.

Prior to the UNTAC being formed Australia contributed a 65 strong communications unit to the UN Advanced Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC) in October 1991. UNAMIC was absorbed into UNTAC on establishment increasing the Australian contingent to 502 personnel comprising of the Force Communications Unit (FCU) 488 and HQ UNTAC 14 staff.

The FCU was originally formed from the 2nd Signal Regiment. It was reinforced from many other units, including 20 personnel each from the RAN and the RAAF and bolstered by the addition of around 45 New Zealand personnel. The unit was spread across 56 locations throughout Cambodia and saw more action than any other unit.

These records were acquired by the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping to research and analyse the Australian contribution to the UN mission in Cambodia. The research of the Cambodia chapter was accessioned into the National Collection as AWM330 and the original diary records were transferred to the Australian War Memorial as AWM399 in 2019.


A UNAMIC diary, from 16 October 1991 to 19 February 1992, then a gap to 10 July 1992, forms the first item of the collection. This is a narrative record only.

The records are the original versions, not duplicates or copies, hence their separation from AWM330. The dates of the diaries in this series range from May 1992 to October 1993 and comprise of two parts: a narrative and annexe.

Topics featured in the annexes include duty officer's log; SITREPS (situation reports); operations orders and instructions; intelligence reports and summaries; administrative orders and instructions; reports, bulletins, ammunition and field strength returns (including nominal rolls); commander's policy and demi-official letters; other papers, for example, maps, air photos and reports from sub-units.

Evidence of specialised records such as quartermaster and adjutant records; the communications concept and standard operating procedures also form part of the series.

The records of AWM399 are arranged in chronological order, led by the UNAMIC record and followed by the specialised records. The records are controlled using a single running top number. Provision is made to identify the original file number as an alternative in the catalogue record.

The FCU diary records were classified secret. This status remains in force until a record is assessed, upon application, against the provisions of the Archives Act, 1983. Following assessment, the access status of a requested record will be Open, Open With Exception or Closed. The classification of secret will no longer be in force.

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