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
Third Party Intervention
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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
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.
Links to More Information About and Examples of Third Party Intervention
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.
- Paul Wehr - Third Party Intervention
- This article gives a more detailed view of the roles of third parties in conflict
- Mary Anderson -- Humanitarian NGOs in Conflict
- This article discusses NGO intervention in escalated conflicts, highlighting the
benefits--and the costs and pitfalls--of such intervention.
- Chester Crocker -- Lessons on Intervention
- This article looks at what works and what doesn't work in terms of international
intervention in intergroup and international conflicts.
- Current and Future Arrangements for
- This is another article which describes the intervention dilemmas currently facing the
- Mediating the Oslo Accords on the Middle East
- This is a short description of Norway's intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, highlighting the special strengths Norway had that made the effort successful.
- Thomas Princen--Quaker Mediation in Sri Lanka
- This is a very different story of mediation, examining the approach taken by Quakers in
Sri Lanka and elsewhere around the world.
- William Zartman and Saadia Touval --
International Mediation in the Post- Cold War Era
- This comprehensive look at international mediation considers what works and what doesn't
- Adam Curle -- Another Way: Positive response
to contemporary violence
- This article focuses on nonviolent intervention from NGOs acting to protect human
- Aspen Institute--Conflict Prevention:
Strategies to Sustain Peace in the Post-Cold War World
- This article discusses a variety of strategies used to sustain peace. One approach
that worked in South Africa was utilizing the rule of law together with local peace
commissions which were empowered to end violence. These commissions were assisted by
European senior police officers and UN observers who gave credibility to the process.
- Susan L. Carpenter and W.J.D.
- This article discusses ways third party intervenors can help disputants get beyond
obstacles that are preventing progress in their conflict resolution efforts.
Links to Outside Information about Third Party Intervention
Party Intervention and the Ending of War by Keith Webb, University of Kent
- This article demonstrates the utility of third party intervention in the ending of wars,
and gives detailed examples of the South Africa/Angola War and the Mozambique Internal
- Leaping the
Bar Overcoming Legal Opposition To ADR in the Developing World - Spring 1998 - Dispute
Resolution Magazine - Section of Dispute Resolution - American Bar
- This article reviews progress made toward adopting alternative dispute resolution
programs in the developing world. Both successes and obstacles are discussed, as
well as ways of surmounting obstacles.
- Third-Party Dispute Settlement
and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
- By John Noyes - This article is available full text from the New Zealand Institute of
Dispute Resolution. It explains the development of the dispute resolution provisions
in the Law of the Sea and relates these to general international dispute resolution
- US Institute of Peace Special Report-The U.S. Contribution
to Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution in Africa
- This report summarizes what the U.S. can and
should do to promote peacemaking and peacebuilding in Africa. It also examines what
Africans need to do themselves, with and without outside assistance.
Post-Cold War Ethnic Conflicts: Alternatives to Intervention - Paul Wehr
- This essay discusses the benefits and limitations of international intervention in
Mitigation in Reconstruction and Development
Links to Related Approaches
Links to Related Problems
Almost all the problems addressed on this website can be helped with third party
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