William Yotive

There is a new proposal on Facebook to celebrate the 100th anniversary of MUN on 13 November. Unfortunately, this proposal is based on factually inaccurate assertions. Since there has been a fair amount of confusion about the history of MUN, this provides a good opportunity to clarify some of this history and to reflect on what Model UN is and what it has become. 

All of the information in this article comes from a book I am writing on the history of Model UN. The first part, which will cover  the period from 1921-1930, will come out sometime next year.

The timing of the anniversary that is being proposed is pegged to an International Assembly that was supposedly held at Oxford University (OIA) on 13 November 1921 that the organizers of World MUN Day have written about in an article published by Wisemee titled, “The History of the First MUN”. The article makes a number of assertions which deserve closer examination. 

  • First, it makes the assertion that this was ‘the first MUN’ and that as a result MUN is celebrating its 100th anniversary next month.
  • Second, it makes the assertion that the International Assembly was the first simulation of an international organization (i.e., the League of Nations).
  • Third, it includes a quote from one of the OIA Presidents that claims the assemblies came about, in part, to support the League of Nations.
  • Fourth, it asserts that Harvard was the stepping stone to the popularity of the Model Assemblies in the United States. 
  • Fifth, it asserts that the first assembly took place on 13 November 1921 which is why the celebration of World MUN Day is tagged to this date.

While there is some overlap, I will examine these assertions in sequence. The questions I will attempt to answer include: 1) Was the OIA really the ‘first MUN’? 2) Was Harvard the stepping stone to the popularity of Model Assemblies in the United States? Did any of the International Assemblies have a direct impact or any impact on MUN today? 3) How accurate was OIA’s simulation of the League Nations? How did the actual participants of the OIA and other assemblies that were offshoots of the first assembly view the assemblies? How important was the simulation component to the purpose and intent of the assemblies? 4) Did the first assembly actually take place on 13 November 1921?

Unfortunately, only six sources were cited in the article, “The History of the First MUN”, to justify the assertions listed above in support of the declaration that MUN is 100 years old. These sources barely scratch the surface of this history. The history of MUN is much richer and more nuanced than it is portrayed to be and once you delve underneath that surface, you will see that most of the assertions made in the above mentioned article will not survive the light of day.

Was the Oxford International Assembly the first MUN?

The short answer is, it was not. The differences between the OIA and MUN far outweigh whatever similarities we might find.

Towards the end of the article, “The History of MUN”, the author asserts, “it is striking how similar sessions from the 1920s are almost exactly the same as those today, with delegates representing countries much as students do nowadays.” The author is incorrect in claiming that delegates represented countries “much as students do nowadays.” Indeed, in the Oxford International Assembly’s own review and analysis of its activities, it states that what makes the OIA unique is that “the point of view of each country is expounded by a national of the country concerned.” Given the diversity of students at Oxford, in almost all cases, countries were represented by the nationals of those countries and when they were not available, ‘expert’ delegates with a special knowledge of the country were chosen. The same approach was followed in other International Assemblies that were organized in other locations in the United States, including the Harvard International Assembly. For the most part, Oxford students did not represent countries like they do in MUN. They were actual citizens of the countries that were members of the Assembly. Claiming that the OIA and MUN are almost exactly the same is therefore not true.

The motto of the Oxford International Assemblies was “until there is understanding there will be no peace”. The OIA was founded on the belief “that it is able to do something to nurture the real understanding of one nation by another.” And what better way is there to assist students in understanding the position of a country than to have a national of that country explain it? In contrast, in a MUN simulation, students are assigned a country that they do not come from in the hope they will learn a new perspective by stepping into the shoes of a diplomat representing the government of the country they were assigned. The difference between the OIA and MUN is profound and fundamental and counters any assertion that they were “almost exactly the same.” Quite the contrary.

The most obvious difference between the first OIA and MUN is that the former was linked to simulating the League of Nations and the latter is linked to simulating the UN. They are two completely different entities with completely different procedures. For one, the League followed the unanimity rule which was rejected by the UN Charter in favor of the majority rule. Furthermore, the UN started moving away from the majority rule in the 1950s and now embraces the consensus approach which requires a different negotiating process. Are they both international organizations whose purpose is to prevent world war? Yes, but the decision-making process they engaged in to achieve that purpose are very different.

So, why would any one would even try to apply the term ‘MUN’ to an assembly that linked itself to the League of Nations? It is my contention that this can only occur if the original meaning of the word MUN has been lost or ignored.  You don't have to look far to find numerous examples of contemporary MUNs where simulations of national bodies like a parliament or non-UN entity (e.g., NATO , G-20, or even fantasy simulations of all sorts) that have nothing to do with the UN (or the League of Nations for that matter) are all simulated under the umbrella of Model UN. This has occurred, I suggest, because the term Model UN has been reduced to mean nothing more than ‘a simulation of something’. And this is why it has been so easily applied by the author in retrospect to an event that occurred 100 years ago that has nothing to do with the UN - simply because it is viewed as a simulation - without batting an eyelash. The ‘UN’ has essentially been removed from ‘MUN’.  But If we want to keep the UN in MUN, then the only simulation that has the right to the title as the first MUN is the simulation that was the first MUN and called itself a Model UN. That occurred in 1943. So the true centenary anniversary of MUN doesn’t really happen until 2043. 

Imagine if we celebrated the anniversary of the UN based on the date the League of Nations came into existence. If we followed this algorithm, the UN would be celebrating its 102nd anniversary on January 10, 2022.  That would seem weird wouldn’t it? No one would find that an acceptable way to calculate the age of the UN. So why would it be acceptable to calculate how old MUN is by starting with date of a simulation of the League of Nations? Just as the League and UN are completely different intergovernmental bodies, so too the simulations of these entities are quite different. Are there similarities? Absolutely, but these similarities are not sufficient to warrant referring to them by the same name. 

Indeed, if we can so easily call the OIA a MUN, what stops us from referring to MUN as an International Assembly or Model Assembly (which is the term that was applied to simulations of the League starting in 1926)? If they are essentially the same, then it shouldn't matter which term we use. But this would feel strange because the Model Assemblies only focused on one entity and a typical Model UN can choose to simulate between one and 37 of the different UN bodies that comprise the UN system. Moreover, each of the entities follows somewhat different procedures. So replacing MUN with Model Assembly to describe the simulations that are conducted today wouldn’t be proper either.

It would be valid to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the OIA as the first student simulation of an intergovernmental organization, but that is very different from celebrating it as the first MUN.

Did the Oxford or Harvard International Assembly have a direct impact on MUN?

The simple answer is also no. The Oxford International Assemblies had a grand scheme hoping that the Assemblies would spread to other large universities around the world and unite these organizations in ways that would allow them to exchange visits and decisions on international problems.  The goal of establishing a new world order by uniting a network of International Assemblies to build understanding between the peoples of world essentially failed. Within a few years after the Assemblies emerged onto the international stage, the flame was extinguished. By late 1925 it was noted in many newspaper articles across the United States that “the Oxford International Assembly last year grew quite out of hand and is now to be recognized as a smaller and better body.” That was the last time the Oxford International Assemblies were mentioned in any newspaper. All traces of it vanished after that. Whatever smaller and better body it changed into ceased to exist. In the case of the Harvard version, all traces ceased as early as 1924. The Harvard Assembly did not thrive nor was it “seen as a stepping stone to the popularity of Model League of Nations in the United States.” 

It is important to note that there were other International Assemblies in other locations both in Europe and the United States that we’re offshoots of the OIA. None of them endured.

Once the flame was extinguished, there were no Assemblies of any kind for a while. The first simulation to actually call itself a Model League of Nations occurred in 1926 in Asia of all places, and had no connection with anyone involved in organizing the OIA or the Harvard version of it. This Model simulated the League of Nations much more closely than any of the International Assemblies before it. 

In the United States, the initiative to establish a Model Assembly was taken up by the League of Nations Association (LNA). As early as 1925 they started creating educational materials on the League of Nations for schools throughout the United States that included an “Outline for a Model Assembly of the League of Nations”. The LNA is directly responsible for creating and coordinating a network of Model Assemblies around the country that eventually led to the creation of the first Model UN. 

In 1927, Syracuse University organized the first collegiate Model Assembly in the United States. The key word here is collegiate because 11 colleges and universities came together on the Syracuse campus to participate in the Model Assembly. This was a game changer. The International Assemblies were all insular events that were only open to students who were enrolled in a particular institution. They tended to be organized in places, like Oxford and Harvard, where there was a student population diverse enough to make it possible for nationals to represent the countries  that were included in the simulation. The collegiate model did not require this . As a result it really opened it up to anyone who wanted to participate. It is not surprising that once this happened it became popular very quickly throughout the United States.

Another interesting fact to note, is that one of the colleges that participated in the first collegiate Model Assembly held at Syracuse University, ended up organizing the first Model UN 16 years later. If anything had an influence on what was to become Model UN down the road, it was the Syracuse conference. One can draw a direct line from this conference to the first Model UN, something that cannot be done from the Oxford or Harvard International Assemblies. Having said this, I would still not call the Syracuse Model Assembly the first MUN. You cannot change the fact that it was a simulation of the League of Nations and not the UN. The only way you could call it a MUN is if you ignore the fact that MUN has the words ‘United Nations’ in it.
 
Harvard had no role in these efforts and was not at all the stepping stone for the popularity of the Model Assemblies. The popularity was due entirely to the efforts of the LNA, which had the organizational structure that was able to implement this on a national level that Harvard could not possibly accomplish on its own. 

One measure of the impact an entity has had is by measuring how many other organizations cite it or acknowledge that they have been influenced by it. None of the publications on Model Assembly distributed by the LNA made mention of the International Assemblies in the United States. I did find one very brief reference to Oxford in a 1930 LNA educational publication but this is the only reference I have been able to find in over a decade of research. While that indicates that the LNA was aware of the OIA, no one from International Assemblies had any direct involvement in the LNA activities regarding Model Assemblies or in developing the LNA's educational materials on simulating the League or influencing their decisions regarding the structure and procedures used in these materials. In addition, Professor Duncan Hill from Syracuse University, who is credited with coming up with the idea of creating a collegiate Model Assembly, wrote an article on the factors that led him to come up with this idea. There is no mention anywhere in the article of the International Assemblies being a source of inspiration. Finally, in an article I found in a LNA publication written by the first President of the Oxford International Assembly about the importance of teaching about the League in schools, and what the League was doing on this topic (written after the OIA had ceased to function), he never brings up the International Assemblies and he was one its founding members. I found that quite amazing. This suggests we should be careful not to overstate the impact that the International Assemblies had on what came later.

One could say there is some implicit recognition of the International Assemblies from the fact that Syracuse attempted to include foreign nationals to represent their country wherever possible. However, where most of the students in the International Assemblies were nationals and when they were not available, ‘expert’ delegates were chosen, in the case of the Syracuse Model Assembly, the ratio was reversed. Most of the students were not nationals of the country they were representing. Only a small percentage were nationals and among those that were not nationals, none were experts on the country they were representing. They had to study and prepare just like MUN students do today. The limited use of nationals at Syracuse was the only vestige that pointed back to the earlier international assemblies, but this quickly faded due to the difficulty of maintaining the representation of countries by nationals once the collegiate circuit that was established by the LNA grew in popularity. The role playing aspect that is common in MUN, where students step into the role of being ambassadors from countries that have been assigned, can be traced back to the collegiate Model Assemblies. 

Harvard was not involved at all in the 1927 Model Assembly organized by Syracuse University. It wasn’t until October 1927 that it announced plans to form its own International Council that it described as a miniature League of Nations Assembly. Over time, the Council meetings became more informal and never evolved into anything that was remotely similar to a Model Assembly. Harvard did not organize its own Assembly until 1929 but by that time it had already participated in two other collegiate conferences organized first by Amherst and then by Mount Holyoke. So this undercuts any assertion that Harvard was the stepping stone that led to the popularity of Model Assemblies.

The efforts of the Syracuse Model Assembly to find foreign nationals to participate in its Model Assembly would suggest that they were aware of the OIA but there was no acknowledgment or a debt of gratitude expressed to what came before.

The outline of a Model Assembly provided by the LNA was a more accurate simulation than what had been pursued by the International Assemblies and went off in a completely different direction that more closely resembles what we recognize today as Model UN. 

The LNA was the primary force behind Model Assemblies. When it legally changed its name, in 1945, to the American Association for the United Nations (AAUN), under the tutelage of Eleanor Roosevelt, it shifted from being the primary force behind a collegiate network of Model Assemblies to being the primary force behind creating a collegiate network of Model UNs through the mid-1960s.  In 1965 the AAUN merged with the US Committee for the United Nations and assumed the name UNA-USA which today is one of the prominent members of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA). UNA-USA created a subsidiary body, the Collegiate Council for the United Nations  (CCUN) to carry on the work of promoting and supporting Model MUNs around the country. UNA-USA is also responsible for creating the Global Classrooms program that created a global education curriculum and mini-UN simulations that are used by schools throughout the United States. 

In summary, there is only one organization that can claim to be the continuous thread linking Model Assemblies and MUNs and that is the League of Nations Association which later became the American Association for the United Nations and eventually morphed into UNA-USA. While the article “The History of the First MUN” tries to make the case that Harvard was the stepping stone to the popularity of the Model Assemblies and beyond, the fact is the International Assemblies had no direct involvement in this transition.

What the article “The History of the First MUN”  perhaps overlooks is that the International Assemblies  could be seen at the same time as the progenitor of Youth Assemblies that have had a significant role in the UN.  The 100th anniversary of the Oxford International Assembly might be more appropriately viewed as a moment to say that the World Youth Assemblies of today owe a debt of gratitude to the OIA. There are many more similarities between the OIA and the assemblies today precisely because they foster dialogue and understanding between youth without having them role play. This captures the true spirit and intention of the early assemblies which aimed, according to the Harvard International Assembly to “promote free and serious expression of opinion on international questions” between the youth of different countries.

To what extent was the Oxford International Assembly a simulation of the League of Nations?

This is perhaps the most fascinating question because it is more complex and nuanced. The short answer is that it was a simulation in some ways but not in others. Let’s call it a quasi-simulation. It is true that the International Assembly included a number of elements from the League proceedings into its simulation, for example, Committee meetings and resolutions focusing on global issues that were later debated and voted on. In fact, its agenda consisted of either “a debate on a resolution, or of a discussion on a report prepared by a Committee which has previously been appointed for that purpose. In between the sessions much hard, valuable work and detailed work is done by these Committees. By this system of the discussion of Committee reports it has been found possible on many occasions in the past to endow the sessions with a combination of zest and a wealth of information not often found in student assemblies.” These two components of its agenda further differentiate these early Assemblies from MUN. MUN simulations never meet in Committees to draft reports that are then the subject of discussion. They only include one aspect -- the debate and adoption of a resolution. And although that one element may be similar, the procedures to conduct the debate were completely different from MUN.

At the same time, it also relied on procedures used by the Oxford Union Debating Society.  As the author of the article, “The History of the First MUN”, notes: 

"Whilst not strictly comparable with League protocol, it does reflect the fact that the founding members of the Oxford International Assembly were also Oxford Union members, and thus understood this style of debating more easily.” 

Nonetheless, the author wants to maintain the similarity with MUN by pointing out that 

"In Oxford, according to their fifth session, delegates proposed resolutions as simple one or two sentence solutions, which were then debated and voted upon. The end of a topic came when enough resolutions were voted upon to deem the topic at hand solved. In Harvard, delegates seemingly voted at the end of debate on a list of resolutions, more reminiscent of the current system we have today.”

The debate was clearly the primary interest in the Assemblies. We see this from the fact that over its short history, the OIA replaced its procedures which were initially closer to the procedures of the League with new procedures that they thought would be more “provocative…for the production of a good and representative debate.” The accuracy of the simulation was not of great importance. In some sense you might say the OIA was essentially a debate with the cloak of the League of Nations thrown around its shoulders.

As pointed out above, the fact that voting on resolutions occurred both in the International Assemblies and in most MUNs today (this is not the case with WIMUN conferences which focus on reaching consensus so that voting is not necessary), is not sufficient cause to support an assertion that the two are ‘essentially’ the same or that this factor justifies the claim that the OIA was the first MUN. This would require us to ignore all of the other differences which are quite significant.

The important point here, as the author of “The History of the First MUN”, highlights, is that the procedures were not an accurate simulation of the League protocol. The differences between the OIA and the League come into further relief when we learn that the students at Oxford and Harvard agreed to admit nationals from the United States, Germany, Russia, and Turkey, even though they were not members of the League of Nations. The Model Assemblies that emerged from 1926 onwards were much more accurate simulations than those organized by the International Assemblies. They never included countries that were not members of the League.

According to the review and analysis of the OIA, published by its leadership, “the membership of the OIA in no way implies support of the League of Nations, some delegates in fact being its confirmed and resolute opponents.”  In support of this, I have the text of a letter written by one of the participants of the OIA who wrote that another participant had complained that the simulation was just a plot to use his participation as “propaganda for the existing body at Geneva.” This doesn't sound like someone who is very enthralled by the simulation aspect of the OIA.

This partially contradicts the quote attributed to Mir Mahmood in the article that “it was to spur the intelligent youth of the day to understanding and supporting the League of Nations, knowing that many would likely be vital to its continuation in the future.” I say partially because the first part of the quote (i.e., “to spur…youth to understanding”) clearly expresses the true purpose of the assemblies but the rest of the quote does not represent the view of all who participated in the Assembly. Mir Mahmood was President of the second session (not the first as the article states) and was just one of many Presidents of the OIA over its short history. There are, however, a number of letters and articles written by and about other participants of the actual OIA that give a fuller picture on whether the simulation of the League was (or was not) important to those who participated in these assemblies.  At least for some students it was not the central purpose or the central focus. And this was openly acknowledged in the OIA's own review and analysis of its activities. 

When Mir Mahmood spoke at Harvard it was ostensibly to encourage the students there to create their own assembly. But he didn’t have to worry because one of its professors was an original participant of the OIA when he was studying at Oxford and saw to it that it was implemented by the students. The Harvard Crimson reported that when this Harvard professor explained the purpose of the assembly he "stressed the fact that the assembly was not being organized merely for the purpose of dramatizing the procedure of the League but rather to discuss subjects of international scope from the viewpoints of the different nations with foreign students presenting their opinions from the point of view of their respective governments.” This clearly suggests from one who was so intimately involved in the International Assembly both at Oxford and Harvard, that the primary driver was to give young people from different countries a forum in which they could gain a better understanding of each other so that differences could be resolved through dialogue rather than war. The founding members of the Assembly hoped that their vision would be adopted by other universities around the world and that by submitting their differences to a public debate, peace in the world could be achieved. The simulation was secondary, which is why, I think, they felt comfortable deviating from the procedures of the real League and even allowing countries to participate that were not members. As long as the procedures of the League were useful in promoting discussion they supported it but if there was some way of making the debate more “provocative”, they were willing to make changes in the procedures even if it meant moving further away from an accurate simulation.

Another supporting piece of evidence that simulating the League was not the primary interest is found in the fact the first international assembly organized in the United States, after OIA but before Harvard, decided to dispense with the rules of procedure altogether and turn it into a discussion between youth from different countries.

We are quick to celebrate the OIA as the first simulation but it is important to note that no one in the OIA ever referred to what they were doing as a simulation nor did they call it a Model Assembly. We must remember that these are words we are using in retrospect. I found one article written by one of the original participants of the OIA more than 5 decades after it took place that referred to the OIA as a Model Assembly but this did not reflect how people actually spoke about it in the 1920s. He was just drawing from terms that were already in the vernacular at the time. It is also worth noting that this was during a time period when Model UN had been going on for more than 30 years and he did not choose to call it a Model UN but rather a Model Assembly.  

When I researched whether other terms were used by participants besides International Assembly, I found one participant who called it a “mimic League of Nations.”  But he was not referring to mimicking the procedures as you would expect if the simulation of the League was the central focus. The ‘mimic’ he was referring to was that the debate among nationals representing their national points of view, much like the exchange of views in the League were between the national representatives of different countries. That name, however, did not stick nor was it ever used by other participants or by the OIA leadership. When celebrating this as the first simulation of an international organization, we must keep in mind that simulating the League of Nations itself was not the primary interest of all who participated in the OIA. The primary interest was to develop understanding through a process of public debate.

One last angle to look at is to split the simulation into its various components and see how it matches up to the real League. These components include:

  1. the rules of procedure,
  2. flow of debate,
  3. membership,
  4. other miscellaneous components. 

Let’s look at each one in turn.

Rules of Procedure: We saw the OIA combined elements of the League procedures with elements from the Oxford Debating Society. Over its short history it modified its procedures to accentuate the debate. This required modifying the procedures of the League that had been initially incorporated into the simulation. The Model Assemblies that replaced the International Assemblies from the mid-1920s onward were more careful about following the real procedures.

Flow of Debate: The flow of debate was heavily influenced by the debate format used in the Oxford Union and Harvard Debating Societies. Initially much of the discussion took place in Committees before resolutions were debated in public. The OIA leadership felt that this reduced the level of controversy once resolutions were debated so they chose to modify the procedures so that the debate of resolutions would be more intense. So again, over time the flow of debate moved further away from how it occurred in the real League.

Membership: From the start both the Oxford and Harvard International Assemblies allowed a number of countries to be represented that were not members of the League. This is because the primary purpose was to build understanding through peaceful debate. It was not to provide an accurate simulation of the League. The Model Assemblies that came later were careful not to deviate from the actual membership of the League.

Other miscellaneous components: An additional component of the Assembly included interactions with the audience who came to observe the proceedings. At the end of the meeting, observers were given a chance to share their views on the question as part of the International Assembly. This does not occur in MUN at all and is another item that differentiates the Assembly from MUN and makes them less similar.

Give these facts we should be careful not to overemphasize the significance of Oxford’s International Assembly as a simulation. Its true importance was in its vision to build understanding between people from different countries by submitting their differences to public debate. This effort was no doubt laudable and it is unfortunate that the leaders of this experiment were not able to see it develop further. Perhaps they were too singular in their approach. The only model that has endured over time is the collegiate model developed by LNA. The realization of this dream required a new group of visionaries with a different approach.

Was the first meeting of the Oxford International Assembly on 13 November 1921?

According to the official records of the OIA, the first meeting was not on 13 November but on 16 November.

Conclusion

My only motivation in this article is to correct the historical record as it was reported in the article “The History of the First MUN” and clarify why the first OIA should not be characterized as the first MUN and why the International Assembly at Harvard that followed in its footsteps should not be considered the stepping stone to the Model Assemblies that led directly to the emergence of the Model UN.

The historical record does not support either assertion. While there might be some similarities (discussing global issues in Committees, debating and voting on resolutions), the differences were far greater, most notably, the Assemblies relied on nationals to expound on their national views and MUNs do not, and the rules of procedure of the League were only loosely followed or not followed at all and differed considerably from procedures used in MUN. The Harvard International Assembly ceased to function as early as 1924. The creation of a collegiate network of Model Assemblies was initiated by the League of Nations Association in 1925 following the demise of the International Assemblies. Harvard later became active in participating in the Model Assemblies organized by this network but they were not the leaders of it. 

The popularity of the Model Assemblies is solely due to the efforts of the League of Nations Association. Moreover, it was one of the colleges that participated in the first collegiate Model Assembly in 1927 at Syracuse that continued to participate in this network annually until 1943 when they decided to break new ground and organize the first Model UN. That school is still participating in MUNs to this day! This is the milestone more than anything that came before it, that deserves to be celebrated on World MUN Day.

As wonderful as Model UN is and however great its contributions, it makes no sense to declare 13 November the 100th anniversary of Model UN. Its contributions can still be celebrated without creating a false narrative not supported by the historical record to justify its celebration.

I started my research on the origins of Model UN in 2009. It wasn't until 2016 that I found my first reference to the Oxford International Assembly. It was an amazing moment because I had not come across any mention of it in the first seven years of my research. It seemed like such an important discovery. I wondered at the time why this was so and why it had been buried in the annals of history. Now in retrospect, I understand better why it is has not been written about very much and why it failed. Learning about the League of Nations was not the primary driver of the Assemblies like it was for the LNA. So it is not surprising that creating an accurate simulation of the League was less important for these Assemblies. It seemed odd at first that some students would be participating in a simulation of a body that they opposed, but now it is clear why. Educating students about the League was not the driving force for some students as the remarks delivered by Mir Mahmood at Harvard would lead you to believe. Once I read the review and analysis of the OIA it became clear that the primary driver was the desire to build understanding through peaceful debate between the citizens of different countries. Unfortunately, this never came to be. The Assembles’ raison d’être is worth celebrating more than the fact it was the first simulation of an intergovernmental body. This goal is still worth striving for today. Perhaps we could learn a few lessons from the short-lived experiment and improve on it. 

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of MUN on 13 November is wrong for two reasons: 

  • It is not proper to refer to the Oxford International Assembly as the first MUN unless you completely ignore that MUN includes the words “United Nations.” The 100th anniversary of MUN will not occur until 2043; and,
  • The first meeting of the Oxford International Assembly occurred on 16 November, not 13 November.

About the Author

William Yotive participated in his first Model UN in 1970. He was the Model UN focal point at the United Nations, where for over 14 years, he helped organize the first 3 Models UNs ever run by the UN, and is now the Model UN Coordinator at the World Federation of United Nations Associations where, pre-pandemic, he had been organizing the WFUNA International Model UN conference (WIMUN) in different countries which has now been moved online. WIMUN has been consistently ranked the best large MUN conference (2017, 2019) and the best medium MUN conference (2020) in the MyMUN Hall of Fame. In addition, Mr. Yotive has been working on a book on the History of MUN for more than a decade.