A Crucial Part of MUN History – SLMUN

By Michelle Abeyewardene

Model United Nations is defined by the United Nations Organization as a simulation to learn more about the UN. Long before the United Nations was founded, the League of Nations, which was its predecessor, was simulated by the scholars at Oxford University. This historic event occurred in the year 1921. Such simulations were called “International Assemblies.”

However, World War 2 proved the League’s inefficiency and in 1945 the United Nations was founded in its place. Two years later, the first-ever simulation of the United Nations took place at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. Such simulations were referred to as “Model United Nations.”

Topics related to the impact of nuclear weaponry, the crisis and post-war reconstruction were discussed at the 1st ever Model United Nations conference. Sri Lanka Model United Nations delegates and other MUN delegates can occasionally be seen engaging in heated debates over the same topics even today! There is a sense of nostalgia when such topics are discussed but they are extremely relevant as topics even today. The impact of Model United Nations has only grown over the 75 years of its existence. The founders of the 1st ever MUN conferences would be proud as today we harbor diplomacy and international relations through multiple MUN conferences.

Sri Lanka became a member state of the United Nations in 1955. However, it isn’t until 1994 that Sri Lanka hosted its first-ever Model United Nations conference. Shortly afterwards, Sri Lanka Model United Nations was established in 2008. It was an initiated due to the great efforts of Mr. Rohan Ellawala, who is the Charge D’ Affairs of the conference up to date.

The 3rd Sri Lanka Model United conference. It was held at Water’s Edge in 2010.
Image courtesy: https://younghistorians.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/slmun-2010/

It grew to become Sri Lanka’s largest and one of Asia’s largest Model United Nations conferences. Sri Lanka Model United Nations has been going strong for 15 years as it has hosted 14 successful conferences to date and will be hosting its 15th session on the 17th and 18th of September 2022. It was a historic moment for Model UN in Sri Lanka, when SLMUN and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) jointly looked for new solutions to the problem of children being subjected to physical violence in their own schools. That is not to say that the conference has faced its fair share of obstacles along the way. In 2020, Sri Lanka Model United Nations hosted the 13th conference virtually via the Zoom platform due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although SLMUN rose to the occasion and organized a successful virtual conference during a global crisis, it reverted to hosting physical conferences afterwards. This was mainly because the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Model United Nations wanted to preserve the culture and traditionalism of MUN.