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
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
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In some cases such power differences are appropriate and just. For example, governments, police and military forces in broadly supported, democratic political systems should be more powerful than small paramilitary hate groups that are focused on a racist agenda. People who are trying to assemble a broad-based coalition that advances the interests of all citizens should be more powerful than those who are pursuing narrow, selfish, and greedy objectives.
Unfortunately, sometimes the distribution of power favors narrow selfish interests, at the expense of the interests of the broader society. In these cases individuals, small groups, or even small communities are subjected to overwhelming and often physical force which they are powerless to resist, yet which is being used to pursue objectives which would be deemed by the outside world to be illegitimate and unjust. In the most extreme cases, this involves individuals who are subjected to imprisonment, torture, "disappearance," or killing for political reasons. This kind of persecution is often associated with the persecution of racial and ethnic groups.
In these cases, victims are likely to feel that they do not have an effective strategy for defending their interests and resisting injustice. As a result, they give up and decide to accept the injustice. They may also abandon nonviolent approaches in the belief that violent resistance offers their only hope. The result may be a series of highly destructive confrontations in which the disempowered parties make little progress in protecting their interests or rights.
What makes this outcome so tragic is that the parties often do have viable options for defending their rights, even in seemingly hopeless situations. In general these options require the parties to frame the conflict in terms of the collective pursuit of universal principles of justice which all sides have a stake in supporting. (Purely selfish appeals are much less likely to be successful.) In addition, while there is, unfortunately, no quick and easy strategy for correcting the "tyranny of the powerful" problem, over the long-term, the key is to find some way for less powerful parties to build their power base. This tends to involve empowerment, coalition building, collective security, legitimacy building (see treatments below).
Long Term Struggle
Human and Civil Rights Organizations
Human Rights/War Crime Problem
Illegitimate Uses of Force
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