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.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Moral High Ground

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Soldiers have traditionally recognized that the high ground (a hill or mountain top) provides a significant military advantage. The term "moral high ground" applies the same principled persuasive (rather than military) power. Parties seeking the moral high ground simply refuse to act in ways which are not viewed as legitimate and morally defensible by the larger the society. The most common example is people who refuse to use violence against an opponent.  Nonviolent actors generate an enormous amount of sympathy among outsiders, as they clearly are not threatening their opponents (at least not physically).  Therefore, any physical force used against them appears to be highly illegitimate and immoral.  In addition to generating outside sympathy, by taking the moral high ground, disputants can generate a sense of guilt among their opponents, which will greatly lessen their opponents' effectiveness.

In addition, parties that take the moral high ground protect themselves from efforts of their opponents to use moral arguments to mobilize supporters. The other obvious advantage of pursuing a moral high ground strategy is that it encourages parties to "do the right thing."  (This assumes, of course, that the parties are pursuing interests and strategies which are genuinely morally defensible. If a party acts in an immoral way, while pretending that their actions are morally justified, the result is likely to be much less successful.


Links to Examples

Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler -- The Principles of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict
One of the strengths of nonviolent conflict is its moral superiority to violent strategies.

Links to Related Approaches

Confronting Hypocrisy

Crafting Persuasive Arguments

Links to Related Problems

Illegitimate or Excessive Use of Force


Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu