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The origin of MUNs – How it all started 100 years ago

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

As a participant of elbMUN, you probably know what a MUN is and how it works. But do you know how this concept came about and where the first ever MUN was held? Read on and find out!

MUNs originated in the days of the League of Nations, the predecessor organization to the United Nations. A group of students at Oxford University came up with the idea of simulating the operations of the League of Nations to better understand them. The first conference of this kind ever known took place on November 12, 1921. That was more than 100 years ago!

Of course, the Oxford group didn’t want their idea to come to nothing, but to be heard. So Mir Mahmood, then president of the first so-called "International Assembly" at Oxford, visited Harvard University and presented the concept there in 1922. A year later, then, the International Assemblies began to take place in the United States as well. But at some point, the tide turned: the simulations at Oxford were discontinued, and it was up to the people at Harvard to implement and promote the concept. In the years that followed, annual conferences were held in various cities across the US.

Then, in 1945, something very important happened. The United Nations were founded and replaced the League of Nations. Consequently, the International Assemblies had to become simulations of the UN. The concept subsequently became popular all over the world.

And that is why today, there exist so many MUNs in different countries around the world. Hundreds of thousands of students from various countries participate in MUNs every year. For example in Dresden… The founders of the very first International Assembly in Oxford certainly would not have expected such a result when they wanted to learn more about the League of Nations about 100 years ago! :)

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