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

Step-by-Step Application of Force with Negotiation Loop-backs

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As is clear from the section on exchange-based strategies and the EATNA limit, parties are unlikely to accept a voluntary settlement resolving a dispute if they think that they can better advance their interests through some type of force-based strategy. This means that a pre-condition for successful negotiation is often agreement among the parties about the likely outcome of any force-based confrontation. It also means that negotiations are likely to break down in cases where the parties think that they can better advance their interests through some type of force-based option. In these cases, it is necessary to allow the parties to pursue their force-based option until the likely outcome is clear to all parties.

However, force does not need to be pursued to the "bitter end."  Rather, it is usually possible to apply a small amount of force to illustrate one's potential and willingness to use that strategy, and then return to the bargaining table to see if the other party or parties has changed its image of the value of negotiation.  If it has not, then a bit more force can be applied, and negotiation can be tried again.  This is what Ury, Brett, and Goldberg refer to "negotiation loop-backs"--the process of going back to negotiation after one has pursued a power contest, rather than playing the power contest out until the absolute end when one party is completely destroyed ( and the other may be badly hurt).  Often it makes sense to use power short-cuts, rather than the most forceful strategy in this situation, as it limits the damage and costs to both sides, but is often equally as effective (or more so, if costs of the victory are factored in).

Links to Examples of Step-by Step Application of Force

Alexander George -- The Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a clear example of this approach to force and negotiation.
Paul Wehr--Gandhian Satyagraha: An Example of Controlled Confrontation
Wehr argues that this is the approach Gandhi used in his Satyagraha campaigns, although the obviously had not read Ury's book, nor did he likely think about his strategy precisely in this way.  He did, however, firmly believe that some "truth" could be found on all sides, so that force had to be combined with negotiation.

Links to Related Approaches

Inventory of Available Force Types

Types of Power Other than Force

Negotiation Loopbacks


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