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
Majority Rule Processes
Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut
Majority rule processes do not require consensus for group action. Instead, decisions
are made by voting with a majority determining the position of the entire group. This
approach has the advantage of being able to produce a prompt and clear decision. (In may
take some time before consensus processes can reach a decisions--if they can at all.)
Unfortunately, majority rule processes provide only limited incentives for the parties to
compromise or to find a way for dealing with issues that serve the interests of all
participants. Instead, the incentive is to compromise only enough to build a majority
coalition. Once a winning coalition has been achieved, the parties are largely free to
ignore the interests of other participants. This effect can be limited somewhat by rules
which require super-majorities (60%, 2/3 or 3/4 for important decisions). Even with
super-majorities, however, the tendency of majority rule processes is to divide society
into two competing coalitions (often referred to as the right and left, or liberals and
conservatives). One key to controlling what is sometimes called the "tyranny of the
majority" are norms and rules which prevent the majority from disregarding the basic
rights of the minority. These rights, as they are applied in a political context in the
United States for example, include but are not limited to the following:
- Individual Freedom -- people should be allowed to do what they want unless their actions
- Equal Protection -- the laws should be applied equally to all members of society
- Voting Rights -- all members of the society have the right to vote,
- Freedom of Speech -- all members of the group have the right contribute whenever ideas
they want the public debate,
- Individual property -- individual property cannot be taken for group used public use
without just compensation,
- Due Process -- fair processes are used to resolve disputes concerning these rights.
- Joseph P. Folger, Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall Stutman
-- Conflict and Interaction
- The authors observe that conflicts may be either destructive or productive. They
describe the nature of conflict generally, and then examine those features which make
conflicts productive or destructive. Majority rule votes, they observe, can lead to
destructive outcomes as they enforce a win-lose approach to conflict.
Shearouse -- A Vote For Consensus
- This essay illustrates the shortcomings of majority rule (voting) processes and suggests
situations in which consensus is a superior approach to decision making
Conversation On Peacemaking With Jimmy Carter
- Carter observes that elections provide an alternative to negotiation as a peacebuilding
tool which was used successfully in Panama, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.
- Timothy Sisk -- Power Sharing and International Mediation
in Ethnic Conflicts
- This is a brief summary of Sisk's book which discusses a variety of power sharing
approaches which can be used to resolve ethnic conflicts. Some involve majority rule
decision making, while others do not.
- John Prendergast -- Nested Conflict : The Case
- This is a case in which elections failed to contribute towards peace.
Boulding -- United Nations Peacebuiding in Namibia
- Although elections sometimes escalate ethnic tensions, with UN assistance, they
contributed to peacebuilding in Namibia.
Boulding -- United Nations Conflict Resolution Attempts in Central America with the OAS
- UN election monitoring and certification also contributed to peacebuilding in Nicaragua.
- Saadia Touval -- Case Study: Lessons of Preventative
Diplomacy in Yugoslavia
- Democracy was expected to be the key that held Yugoslavia together, Touval states, but
ironically, the suggests that democratic and it economic reforms appear to have fueled the
- Links to Outside Sources of Information about Majority Rule and Making the
Transition to a Democratic System
- Tore Nyhamar Transitions
Links to Related Approaches
Consensus Rule Processes
Protection of Minority Rights
Links to Related Problems
Copyright ©1998 Conflict Research Consortium -- Contact: email@example.com