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
Official (Track One) Diplomacy
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The term "diplomacy" refers to the interaction between nation-states.
Traditionally, diplomacy was carried out by government officials--diplomats--who
negotiated treaties, trade policies, and other international agreements. The process of
negotiations ranges from very formal to informal, but it tends to be fairly adversarial
and competitive, relying on distributive or positional bargaining strategies that assume a
win-lose situation. The goal is to maintain power over weaker nations and a balance of
power with nations of equal status. Although conflict resolution theorists have developed
a multi-faceted understanding of power, diplomacy still focuses on the "power
over" approach, believing that power is a zero sum commodity--the more you have, the
less I have. This encourages positional bargaining, rather than a more integrative or
Although several efforts have been made to alter the adversarial nature of traditional
diplomacy, none has been very successful. The first was the League of Nations which called
for open diplomacy and collective security. Although the plan was developed by the U.S.
President Woodrow Wilson, the United States failed to support the idea, and the League
The United Nations was a second attempt at collective security and international
cooperation. The UN has certainly been much more successful than the League of Nations,
but it still has not been able to overcome power rivalries (especially during the Cold
War, but, to some extent, even now) and lacks the money to enable it to completely carry
out its mandate. For this reason, and given the general ineffectiveness of traditional
diplomacy, more and more attention is being given to what has come to be known as
"track two" or "citizen" diplomacy--international negotiations carried
out by private citizens, rather than official diplomats. Most advocates of track two
approaches argue that they are not a replacement for track one, but rather a supplement to
them. Often track two approaches can precede official negotiations, laying the groundwork
and establishing a certain level of trust between people; sometimes they occur
Links to Examples of Official (Track One) Diplomacy
- Chester Crocker -- Lessons on Intervention
- This article examines the pros and cons, as well as the "hows" of
international diplomatic and military intervention in ethnic conflicts.
George -- Forceful Persuasion: Coercive Diplomacy as an Alternative to War
- In this book George examines the effectiveness of coercive diplomacy--diplomacy intended
to force another country to change its behavior through coercion. This is an overview of
the whole book; the following entry is a more detailed summary of George's conclusions.
George -- The Role of Force in Diplomacy: A Continuing Dilemma for U.S. Foreign Policy
- This is a more detailed summary of the concluding chapter in George's book.
Rubin -- The Timing of Ripeness and the Ripeness of Timing
- This is an article about timing negotiations which refers briefly to official diplomacy
as an impediment to successful negotiation.
- John W. McDonald -- Further Exploration of Track Two
- This article compares track one and track two diplomacy, showing the similarities, the
differences, and the relative roles of the two.
- Saadia Touval -- Case Study: Lessons of Preventative
Diplomacy in Yugoslavia
- This article examines the failure of diplomacy to prevent the tragedy in the Balkans at
the end of the Cold War.
- William Zartman and Saadia Touval -- International
Mediation in the Post- Cold War Era
- This article examines international mediation, investigating (among other things) why
and when official diplomats decide to act as mediators in other countries' disputes (and
how well this works).
- A Conversation On Peacemaking With Jimmy Carter
- This article describes the successful Track One diplomacy that occurred at Camp David
when Sadat and Begin negotiated the Israeli-Egyptian peace accords.
- Roger Fisher and William Ury--Principled Negotiation at
- This article explains how the Camp David negotiations used principled negotiation,
rather than the positional bargaining more typical of official diplomatic negotiations.
The use of the integrative approach contributed significantly, Fisher argues, to the
- Gareth Evans -- Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait in 1990: A
Failure to Use Preventive Diplomacy
- This article discusses why diplomacy failed to prevent the 1990 Persian Gulf War.
- Alexander George -- United States-Japan Relations Leading
to Pearl Harbor
- This article describes a failure of official diplomacy to prevent the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor, which brought the U.S. into World War II.
- Harold Saunders -- Prenegotiation and Circum-negotiation:
Arenas of the Peace Process
- This is another article that describes the relationship between Track One and Track Two
- Jay Rothman -- Conflict Management Policy Analysis
- This is an account of official diplomacy between Israel and Egypt following the Camp
- Tony Armstrong -- "Introduction" from Principles
- This is a summary of a book on methods of transforming intractable conflicts between
nations. It examines the rapprochement between East and West Germany, the United States
and China, and Israel and Egypt, among others, examining what allowed those conflicts to
be transformed. Although many factors contributed to the transformation of these
conflicts, effective official diplomacy was part of the success.
- Tony Armstrong -- Principles of Icebreaking
- This is a more detailed description of the introduction to Armstrong's book on
"ice-breaking" or the transformation of long-lasting international conflicts.
- Raymond Cohen--Negotiating Across Cultures:
Communication Obstacles in International Diplomacy
- Cohen examines the effects of cultural differences on international negotiations and
Links to Outside Sources of Information
Diplomacy and Conflict
Resolution in the Information Age
Links to Related Approaches
Citizen, and Multitrack Diplomacy
Links to Related Problems
Any problems involving conflicts between nation-states.
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