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.
In order to be successful, societies have had to develop political institutions capable of limiting internal violence by providing effective alternatives to violence-based dispute resolution mechanisms and by the development of police and military institutions capable of preventing citizens and other nations from using violent strategies to pursue their interests. These political institutions provide nonviolent (or at least less violent) mechanisms for making broad policy decisions and enacting laws which govern the way in which the legal or judicial system resolves day-to-day disputes. These political institutions also specify the exact circumstances under which police and military can use their monopoly on overwhelming violent force.
Over the centuries, different societies have developed very different political institutions. Common contemporary political systems include those based upon religious law, democratic principles, monarchies, and dictatorships. When we refer to "political power" or "political force," we are referring to nonviolent methods for bringing about public policy changes through the political system. This may involved what, in the U.S., is called "lobbying" the decision makers--talking with them, writing to them, and otherwise trying to convince them to vote or decide in your favor using persuasive power and/or the threat of lost votes (in democracies) if they do not do what the lobbyist wants. Also included in political power is the power of elections--individual laws can be put up for a vote, as in initiatives and referenda in the U.S.--or people can be voted into and out of office. Finally, legislative governing bodies wield political power when the enact laws which they are enforced by the judicial system under the system of legal power.
The topic of political power is huge, far beyond the scope of this website--and even too broad to provide links that deal with it as succinctly as the legal power links. For our purposes, we simply suggest that parties to conflicts examine the political power structure existing in their community and nation, and consider if there are political approaches for dealing nonviolently with the presenting problem.
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