OTPIC Officially Retired
As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.
The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.
International Online Training Program On Intractable
Conflict Research Consortium, University
of Colorado, USA
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Trust is an important element in any social system. It links people together, giving
them confidence in each other, in their relationships, and in their agreements. When trust
is lacking, people will not believe what their opponents say; they will doubt their intent
or motivation in any dispute resolution process, and they will fear that any promises
their opponents make will be broken. For this reason, it can be very hard to start--or
finish--a dispute resolution process when the level of distrust between the parties is
Like many other aspects of conflict, distrust tends to grow as conflicts escalate. It
is heightened as communication gets cut off, and misunderstandings begin to occur. Efforts
to persuade using intentional deception can also fuel distrust, as can manipulative or
Ironically, however, being too trusting can also be a problem, as leading negotiation
scholar Roger Fisher points out. "The more one trusts the other side, the greater the
incentive one provides for behavior that will prove such trust to have been
misplaced." (Fisher 1991, p. 124). So trust must be earned and built carefully in any
successful dispute resolution process.
Links to Examples of Distrust:
- Rebuilding Communities
Devastated by War
- This article describes several peace-building projects underway in Bosnia. One of the
foci of these projects is trustbuilding, since the war eroded the people's trust in anyone
other than their immediate families.
- Craig Kauffman --
Reflecting on Nicaragua
- In 1994, Kauffman described a growing distrust of leaders in Nicaragua and a resulting
dangerous separation between class groups.
- Tony Armstrong --
Principles of Icebreaking, Introduction
- This book discusses three cases of conflict transformation or "rapprochement"
of apparently intractable conflicts. Distrust was a problem in all three cases, but was
especially strong in the relationship between Israel and Egypt before the Camp David
- Dean Pruitt and
Jeffery Rubin -- Escalation in the Cold War
- Pruitt and Rubin discuss distrust and escalation in the early development of the Cold
- Ruth Heimburg
--Extremists versus Police -- A Tragedy for All
- This story of a standoff between a well-armed extremist group and the police highlights
the problem of distrust, which was one of several causes of failed negotiations and
- Hugh Wyndham -- The
Falklands: Failure of a Mission
- Trust in the mediator is essential. This story of mediation failure resulted in part
from the fact that the mediator was not trusted.
- Jay Rothman --
Conflict Management Policy Analysis
- This is a second case study of the distrust between Israel and Egypt, which persisted
even after the conclusion of the Camp David Accords.
- Barbara Gray -- Three Mile Island Citizen
Radiation Monitoring Program
- This is an example of an environmental conflict in which citizens distrusted the
technical "experts," who they feared were biased due to their conflict of
- Dean Pruitt and Jeffery Rubin --
Escalation in the Cold War
- Distrust was one of several factors that fueled the Cold War.
Links to Possible Treatments of Distrust:
Links to Related Problems:
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