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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Constituents are the people a decision maker or a negotiator represents. Union negotiators represent union members; local political officials represent the people of the city or town; negotiators at an international negotiation represent the citizens of their country. If the negotiators agree to a settlement that appears flawed to their constituencies, implementation of that settlement can be made much more difficult. The settlement may not be ratified (if ratification is called for), or extremists may undertake actions beyond the political or legal system to try to derail the agreement. (The violence in the Middle East is one example of such extra-legal/political actions.)
Although such problems are not always avoidable--especially when the constituency groups are large and diverse--certain steps can be taken to try to get the constituencies involved in the process enough that they support the outcome. One approach is to provide good press coverage of the process. The press does not need to be present at the negotiating sessions (most often they should not be), but they can be briefed at the end of each session about what occurred and why. Negotiators should also go back and meet with people in their constituency groups as much as possible, explaining to them what is going on, and learning from them what outcomes they want to achieve, how the process is being received and what might be done to improve the public attitude toward the process, if need be. Overall, although negotiations are very often private, the key is to allow the constituency groups as much of a sense of control and involvement as possible.
Linked to the problem of involving constituency groups in the negotiation or peacemaking process is the importance of developing a peacebuilding process to re-establish normal relationships between different constituency groups which have been a odds with each other for a long period of time. This is most important in communal or ethnic conflicts--conflicts in which entire populations perceive the other group as "the enemy." Not only must the constituency groups be kept informed about the reasons behind any peace negotiations, they must also be involved in their own peacebuilding process to develop a sense of mutual forgiveness and tolerance, at least, of the other group(s).
Links to Related Approaches: Getting People to the Table Peacebuilding - Official Efforts of UN and Regional Organizations
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