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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The terms "third party" and "intermediary" are both used to refer to a person or team of people who become involved in a conflict to help the disputing parties manage or resolve it. Third parties might act as consultants, helping one side or both sides analyze the conflict and plan an effective response. Alternatively, they might act as facilitators, arranging meetings, setting agendas, and guiding productive discussions. Facilitators will also usually record what was said, and may write up a short report summarizing the discussions and any agreements that were reached.
A more active and powerful third party role is that of mediator. Mediators not only facilitate discussions, but they usually impose a structure and process on the discussions that is designed to move the parties toward mutual understanding and win-win agreements. While many different styles of mediation are common, most mediators have the conflicting parties sit down together to explain to each other their views about the nature of the problem and how they think it might best be solved. The mediator often tries to get the disputants to focus on underlying interests (the things they really need or want) more than their initial opening positions (what they initially say they need or want). By clarifying the divergent views and reasons for those views, mediators can usually get the parties to develop a common understanding of the situation, which often yields a solution which satisfies the interests of all parties. While some mediators take a stronger role in option identification and selection than others, mediators do not have the power to impose a solution. At most, they can suggest a solution, which the disputants may or may not accept.
The most powerful third party role is that of an arbitrator. An arbitrator listens to presentations made by both sides, examines written materials and other evidence relating to a case, and then makes a determination of who is right and who is wrong, or how a conflict should be settled. Usually, the arbitrators decision is binding and cannot be appealed. Thus, the arbitrator is the most powerful type of intermediary. Arbitration works well when the parties simply want a settlement, and do not worry about losing control of the process or the outcome. For parties that want to maintain control, however, the other forms of intervention (mediation or facilitation) are often preferred.
Note: This website has write-ups of over 100 articles about this topic. A few are highlighted here, but readers are urged to browse the full list of examples to find more that are of interest.
Jan Øberg--Conflict Mitigation in Reconstruction and Development
Almost all the problems addressed on this website can be helped with third party intervention.
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