Nikolai Firjubin, Founder of UNOY Youth Peace Network


On December 11, CPNN was informed that Nikolai Firjubin has passed away by the facebook post that follows from Celine Del Felice:

We are sad to share that one of UNOY’s founders, Nikolai Firjubin, passed away last Friday.

On his 50th birthday, Nikolai had a dream about a general assembly hall filled with young people discussing the major challenges facing humanity. Nikolai gathered together a group of young people with a shared vision and commitment to build a world in which peace, justice, solidarity, human dignity and respect for nature prevail. In September 1989, UNOY was founded.

We are honoured to carry on Nikolai’s vision: a growing, global network of peace powered by youth.

Nikolai, thank you for your dream and belief that young people can “save the world and preserve peace on Earth”

UNOY made important contributions to the culture of peace, including advocacy campaigns in 2005 and again in 2006 at the United Nations during the International Decade for a Culture of Peace.

Here are excerpts from Firjubin’s account of the source of the idea for UNOY back in 1989:

The dream that became UNOY It was a beautiful early morning, that Saturday in July, in Geneva on the eve of my 50th anniversary. A few days before, in flagrant but very joyful violation of the ‘Rules of the Soviet Citizens working abroad’ I became a member of The Ski Club International. That was my first ever personal secret rebellion against the Communist Party and the KGB; an act of free will and for the first time in my life, I felt really free and full of joy… I boarded the train to Martigny, not suspecting that this simple act would radically change my life and make me a happy and an accomplished human being. . . . At the Alpine Club in Champex, I finally celebrated my 50th birthday at a noisy party attended by my very nice and kind fellow trekkers…

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Question related to this article:
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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The night was very short, and I slept not more than two, maybe three hours. I asked permission from the Leader to spend the day in Champex as we had to climb another mountain before returning back to Geneva. He kindly allowed me to stay for the reason of my birthday. I was very happy as I wanted to reflect on the dream which I had during that short night. In my dream I saw a large hall filled with young people with different ethnic backgrounds and having different skin colors. They were gathered together for some serious purpose. They were listening to an old man, who vaguely looked like a self portrait of Dr. Svetoslav Roerich. I was very surprised that I even remembered my dream – for the first time in my life. The old man said something like: “We brought you here to help save the world and preserve Peace on earth….”

Before taking the bus back to Martigny station, I spent a few hours on a bench of a small island in the middle of Lake Champex, in an attempt to understand the meaning of this dream, until I suddenly got a vision of a United Nations of Juniors (UNOJ) which appeared in my mind.

The week thereafter, I was looking for the address of Dr. Svetoslav Roerich in India. Quite unexpectedly, I was invited for a 5 o’clock tea by my colleague from Moscow who came for a private visit to Geneva. He helped me to contact Dr. Roerich. Soon after, I wrote a letter to Dr. Roerich about my dream and asked for an appointment in Bangalore to talk about it. In his reply he supported my UNOJ vision and agreed to meet me in India.

On the 2nd December, I left Geneva for Bangalore and on December 4th, I met Svetoslav Roerich for the first time in his office in Bangalore. That day, I talked with him for several hours about the dream. Hence, this was the beginning of the beginning of the UNOY. (During the first UNOY meeting in Handel, the Netherlands in May 1989, the youth participants renamed UNOJ ‘United Nations Of Youth’ (UNOY ).

No account of the origin of UNOY could be complete without reference to Maria Kooijman, who co-founded the organization with Firjiubin:

It was April 1989. At that time, I worked for Universal Education and its magazine Educare, promoting holistic and inclusive approaches and methods in education and child rearing. I was approached by Nikolai Firjubin (at that time a UN civil servant/ diplomat) who shared his dream and requested me to assist in organising the 1st International Working Group for the UNOY. The whole staff of Universal Education also became involved. In 6 weeks time, all was arranged and set for the participants to arrive in Handel, the Netherlands at De Weyst, a conference centre based on Ghandian principles. The event became a great success. It was a revealing and overpowering experience to see how youth from around the world bonded together as true friends and took the concept of UNOY utterly serious and as a great challenge.