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

UN Good Offices

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The UN Secretary General uses what is termed his "good offices" (generally meaning his prestige and the weight of the world community he represents) when he meets with world leaders, either publicly or privately, in an effort to prevent international disputes from developing, escalating, or spreading. For example, in 1998 Kofi Annan negotiated a settlement of the dispute between Iraq and the U.S. over arms inspections in Iraq. He used the prestige of his office and the threat of UN Security Council action if no agreement was reached to force Saddam Hussein to allow continuation of UN inspections. Earlier examples include U Thant's assistance during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Javier Perez de Cuellar's mediation of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Secretary-General may also assign senior staff members to act as his special representative, performing the same functions. For example, Brian Urquhart represented the Secretary General's office for many years, proving "good offices" in the Congo, the Middle East, Cyprus, and Namibia.

In his book on UN peacemaking efforts, Gareth Evans observed that most of the efforts at providing preventive diplomacy through the Secretary General's good offices were ad-hoc responses to crises. The choice of personnel, he noted, has been very limited, and frequently the people involved lacked the necessary resources to back them up. They had to rely mainly on their own prestige and the weight of public opinion to be successful in their missions.

When Boutros Boutros-Ghali became Secretary General he tried to set up a more pro-active system for preventive diplomacy which he described in a document entitled An Agenda for Peace.

This plan was well received, yet lack of resources has prevented its full implementation. Nevertheless, the Secretary General is well-respected and trusted by most world leaders, and his mediation or conflict prevention efforts are usually taken seriously.

Links to Related Approaches

Preventive Diplomacy / Conflict Prevention

Third Party Intervention

Links to Related Problems

All problems relating to potentially violent international conflicts.


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