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


Treatment List 2: Treating Core Conflict Problems


Strategies for dealing with the problems which when arise one party forces another party to do something that they do not want to do.

For more information about any of these topics, click on the title.

Types of Power Other Than Force
Power is the ability of parties to protect and advance their interests. This section provides links to types of power other than force.
Inventory of Available Force Types
Critical to the development of sound force-based strategies is a systematic inventory of available force-based options along with their advantages and disadvantages, likely benefits, and costs. This section provides a broad overview of the types of force which are commonly available.
Creation of Violence Limiting Mechanisms
Violence -limitation mechanisms based upon  political and legal institutions as well as the power of the police are often able to limit the use of violent, force-based strategies.  Absence of these institutions often requires the parties to develop strategies capable of dealing with violent confrontations.
Elections / Instituting Democracy
Democratic electoral processes provide one of the most important mechanisms for establishing broadly accepted political and legal institutions capable of limiting the use of violence.
Empowerment strategies are designed to help disempowered groups strengthen their base of forcing power so that they can participate fairly and effectively in dispute resolution processes of all types.
Non-Violent Struggle
Abandonment of violent confrontation does not mean that the parties have to accept defeat. Rather, they can use non-violent means of confrontation which can be equally or more effective than violent struggle.
Collective Security
Collective security agreements call upon participating parties to jointly oppose any aggressive (or illegitimate) actions taken against any of the parties participating in the agreement.
Peace Zones
Peace Zones are proposed international zones which could be administered by the United Nations for the benefit of all the people who live there and care about the region. The establishment of an international Peace Zone had been suggested for Jerusalem, for example, so that it could remain open to the three main religious groups which have roots there.
Civilian Defense
Civilian defense strategies attempt to deter violent aggression by promising a nonviolent program of systematic non-cooperation with any conquering force. The goal is to prevent aggressors from benefiting from their actions.
Long-Term Struggle
In many conflict situations the parties do not have the forcing power needed to advance their interests over the short-term.  They may, however, be able to successfully pursue a long-term strategy focused around the building up of forcing power.
Strategic Retreat
Sometimes the best approach to a threat is to comply and build strength for a future confrontation.
Criminal Prosecution
Criminal prosecution is one strategy for dealing with war crimes and other excessive violence related to protracted conflicts. When successfully used it makes people responsible for what they did; it brings some sense of justice to a society; and it gives a sense of finality, of ending to a violent confrontation.
Apology and Forgiveness
One strategy for dealing with the war criminal problem focuses upon the admission of guilt, the paying of reparations, the asking of forgiveness, and the granting of amnesty. Like criminal prosecution, this approach has its costs and benefits--both practical and moral.
Truth Commissions
Truth commissions are used following periods of human rights abuses and war crimes to publicly and permanently document what actually happened. These efforts, which can be combined with forgiveness and amnesty programs, provide some measure of justice and help build support for programs designed to prevent such occurrences in the future.  They also are often a necessary step for meaningful reconciliation to take place.
Human and Civil Rights Organizations
Human rights organizations provide a coalition-building mechanism through which the disempowered victims of human rights abuses can receive support from outside (and, often, international) sympathizers.
Understanding the Nature of Threats
Improved understanding of the nature of threat and force-based interactions can help the parties better understand when the use of threats and/or force does and does not make sense.

The following seven items are listed both as problems and as treatments, as they can be either, depending on the situation.  The write-ups indicate how these concepts can be seen both ways.

In cases where people are subjected to overwhelming force which they do not have the power to resist, it may be most appropriate to simply accept defeat and try (at least over the short term) to make the best of a bad situation.
Often, people who are being subjected to force pretend that they are submitting to the demands of the forcing or threatening party, when in reality they are pursuing a deceptive strategy which allows them to avoid complying with those demands.
The cost of using force-based threats increases dramatically when the opponent responds to a threat with defiance rather than submission. This forces the threatening party to carry out the threat or admit that it was a bluff. Carrying out a threat is likely to result in an expensive, destructive, and rapidly escalating confrontation, while withdrawing the threat is likely to undermine a party's ability to use threat and force-based strategies in the future.
Defense is a strategy which allows people to prevent others from successfully using force against them. Successful defense strategies do not, however, give the defending party the ability to successfully use force against their opponents.
Coalition Building
People can build their power base and their ability to pursue (or resist) force-based strategies by building coalitions with people with complementary interests. Members of these coalitions promise to help each other advance their interests and defend themselves from external force-based strategies.
Deterrence, Counter-Threats, and Arms Races
Often disputants respond to force-based threats with counter-threats rather than submission. Such threats and counter threats can result rapid escalation of a conflict.   In military situations, this is called an "arms race." Similar dynamics can arise with legal, political, or other types of force as well.
Flight (Refugees)
Another possible response to overwhelming force is flight, in which the parties simply flee the area. It is this strategy which is responsible for the large numbers of refugees who flee the world's trouble spots.

External Intervention
External intervention is the involvement of an external power (another country, for example) in an internal struggle or conflict. This intervention can be military or nonmilitary. Among the non-military options are positive or negative sanctions (rewards or punishments for certain behaviors), mediation, and peacekeeping.
Arbitration is a form of third-party intervention in which the parties voluntarily submit their dispute to a trusted outsider who hears all sides of the story and then makes a decision which the parties have promised to accept.  (Although the parties enter arbitration voluntarily, the binding outcome forces one side to do something it probably wouldn't otherwise do--hence we put arbitration in the "force" category.)
Disarmament Strategies
Counterforce strategies frequently lead to an arms race, in which parties acquire huge military arsenals which are often kept on near-permanent alert so that a relatively minor provocation can quickly escalate into an all-out military confrontation. Disarmament and arms control efforts are key to reducing the dangers associated with this situation.
Legitimizing the Use of Force
In the development and implementation of force-based strategies, there are a number of steps which the parties can take to increase the legitimacy of their actions, and reduce the risk of backlash. Most of these involve limiting the extent and type of force, and linking force to other power options, especially integrative and exchange (negotiation) options.
Peacekeeping involves putting neutral intermediaries between fighting factions to physically keep them apart. This can cool down a conflict enough to allow for successful peace making (the development of a settlement agreement) and long-term peacebuilding (the re-establishment of normal relations).
Forcing Power Shortcuts
Forcing power shortcuts are designed to provide the parties with accurate and low-cost forecasts of the likely outcome of pursuing forcing-power contests to their ultimate conclusion. By using shortcuts, however, the terrible costs of protracted power contests can be avoided. These forecasts can then be used as a basis for negotiation. Examples of such shortcuts include: public opinion polls (in place of elections); arbitration or mini-trials (in place of litigation); and relative military force assessments (in place of military confrontations).
Step-By-Step Application of Force With Negotiation Loop-Backs
Force and loopback processes can be employed in a step-by-step fashion in which a party begins with a modest demonstration of the force-based power and then attempts to negotiate to see if some type of acceptable agreement on the immediate dispute might be possible. If agreement is not possible, they can then step up the use of force and repeat the process.
Losing parties are much more likely to agree to end a struggle if they are given a way out of the situation that is not terribly embarrassing, and does not force them to admit they lost. If there is some way to frame the outcome of the dispute so all sides can claim at least some success, it will make it much easier for the losing side to back down.
Re-Integration of Losers
It also is important that losing parties be reintegrated into the society. People do not just go away, but they must continue to live somewhere--most often where they have been living before. For this reason, disputes must end with a plan that specifies how all the parties will live together in the future.


Strengthening the bonds between people and groups, and using these bonds to constructively confront problems

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Identify Integrative Options
The first step towards effective utilization of integrative power is identifying ways it can be used to constructively transform conflicts.
Opening Communication Channels
Another early step toward making almost any integrative strategy work is opening the communication channels through which integration can take place. Persuasion and conflict transformation are impossible if people are not listening.
Crafting Persuasive Arguments
Successful persuasion requires showing opponents how changing their position advances the common interest that all parties have in a strong integrative system. The best persuasive arguments are built around common values--things that almost everyone would agree on.
Apology and Forgiveness
In many serious conflicts, one or more parties may have committed horrible crimes or atrocities. In  less serious cases, the parties are likely to have done things which opponents find extremely hurtful. In these cases, an integrative approach which focuses upon the acknowledgment of past guilt, the payment of appropriate compensation, and the granting of forgiveness, can do much to help the parties strengthen their relationship and  the integrative system.  Formalized structures to elicit apologies and forgiveness, such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, can help communities torn apart by violent confrontations recover from the crimes and atrocities which occurred. These commissions can provide a formal mechanism to publicly account for what happened, apologize and forgive. This can be very helpful in the overall peacebuilding process, allowing reconciliation between previously warring groups
Confronting Hypocrisy
In cases where people act in violation of their cultural values and beliefs, direct confrontation of their hypocrisy can serve as a basis for persuasive appeals. The key is to construct a situation in which is it impossible for the parties to ignore the hypocrisy of their own actions. Such actions might, for example, involve carefully-structured public demonstrations such as those led by Gandhi and King.
Finding Commonality
In the rush to strengthen group identities, many minority (as well as some majority groups) fail to  recognize the importance of areas of commonality between groups, especially cross-cultural principles of fairness which are capable of binding a diverse society together. Developing such integrative principles  can provide a basis for transforming many cross-cultural conflicts into conflicts which strengthen societies instead of tearing them apart.
This is the reversal of dehumanization.  With humanization, people try to counter enemy images and negative stereotypes, emphasizing the humanity of all people and the importance of treating others fairly based on their humanness.
Coexistence and Tolerance
The principles of coexistence and tolerance are important as a basis for building mutually acceptable relationships between highly diverse communities within a larger society. As such, these principles can contribute significantly to the strengthening of the integrative system.
Trust Building
In prolonged and escalated conflicts, distrust is inevitable, and it significantly hampers the ability of the parties to negotiate even a partial solution to their problems. A variety of trust-building measures are available to slowly build up trust so that more cooperative problem-solving approaches can take place. In addition, implementation plans can be developed that largely eliminate the need for trust, by being self-enforcing.
Face Saving
Face saving is a strategy for limiting the sacrifice trap by making it easier for a party to change its behavior without overtly admitting that they made a mistake in the past.
Reconciliation strategies are designed to resolve the underlying conflict, rather than settle the immediate dispute episode. They require the parties to reconcile their underlying differences and transform their relationship to that of "normalcy". This is a long, slow process involving trust-building, apology, forgiveness, and a variety of other peace-building measures.
Moral High Ground
A party's integrative power can often be strengthened by consistently adhering to high moral principles and refusing to employ tempting, but immoral or escalating tactics such as personal attacks, deceit, or gloating. By "playing fairly," parties can do much to enhance their own legitimacy and hence their ability to persuade their more reasonable opponents and transform the conflict into a more constructive one.
Re-Establish or Empower Traditional or New Conflict-Management Institutions
Every society has its own, traditional ways of managing and resolving conflicts, although these can become dysfunctional at times of protracted and severe conflict. By re-establishing or empowering institutions such as the family, the clan, the church, or the community to provide conflict management assistance, the integrative system can be strengthened and some aspects of an intractable conflict can be transformed and/or resolved.
Joint Projects
One technique for peacebuilding and reconciliation is to engage in joint projects with people on the other side of a conflict. If opponents can be brought together in some cooperative endeavor, they tend to break down their negative stereotypes, begin to depend on each other, and start building normal, positive relationships which can later be extended to issues in conflict.
Peacebuilding - Official Efforts of UN and Regional Organizations
Peacebuilding is the process of rebuilding normal relations between people who have been at war with each other, either literally or figuratively. It involves rebuilding trust, re-establishing cooperative relationships, apologizing for past violent deeds and forgiving those deeds so that the former enemies can become friends and neighbors, who can successfully live and work together in the future. Though peacebuilding is a process that must involve all citizens, not just the elite, efforts to initiate peacebuilding activities are often undertaken by UN peacekeeping teams and/or teams from regional organizations such as the Organization of African States.
NGO Peacebuilding
Nongovernmental organizations can also play a major intermediary role encouraging peacebuilding in war-torn societies. Unlike peacemaking (which is attaining a short-term settlement) or peacekeeping (which just keeps the parties apart), peacebuilding works to re-establish trust and a sense of community and normalcy between previously warring groups. 
NGO Humanitarian Aid
In addition to offering peacebuilding activities, NGOs often provide humanitarian aid. While this is generally not considered a form of conflict management, it does provide fundamental human needs and empowers people enough so that they can begin to undertake a peacebuilding process.
Citizen Diplomacy
In addition to traditional diplomacy of government officials, private citizens can engage in discussions about their conflict situations. Such discussions can focus on improving interpersonal understanding and trust between groups, or they can go so far as to explore options for dispute settlement. Often citizens can say things and suggest ideas that formal diplomats cannot, which can lead to the development of innovative approaches to intractable problems.
Church Involvement
Religion is a very strong integrative factor for most people, although it can be divisive as well when different religious groups oppose each other. A few religions--the Quakers and the Mennonites, for example, have a strong tradition of peacebuilding around the globe. Most other religions value human life and peace in some way as well. If these teachings can be emphasized, churches can go a long way toward bringing people together.
Finding Common Values
Most intractable conflicts involve fundamental value disagreements of some kind. However, there are usually additional values that both sides have in common--for instance the value of peace, or the value of human life. Sometimes a third party can help disputants identify such common values and reframe their disagreement in a way that can help both groups work together to attain these values, rather than focusing on the areas of disagreement.
Power Sharing  and Autonomy Strategies
Many intractable disputes involve what we call "domination conflicts." In this situation, one group dominates another, which does not want to be subordinate to the first group. Conflict is likely to continue as long as either group pursues domination. However, if the groups can agree on some principles of power sharing and/or autonomy, domination conflicts can be mitigated and eventually resolved.
Dialogue is a process in which parties engage in deep and meaningful conversations with their opponents, not for the purpose of resolving a dispute (as is usually true with negotiation or mediation), but rather for the purpose of developing a better understanding of the people "on the other side." Through dialogue, disputants break down negative stereotypes, focus on deep-rooted feelings, values, and needs, and come to understand the complexity of the conflict and the issues on all sides.
Develop Interdependence
Groups which are interdependent are less able to sever ties in a severe conflict. Thus the development of interdependence is an escalation-avoidance strategy. It is also an approach to de-escalate a conflict, as interdependence encourages cooperation, which then encourages peacebuilding efforts.
Establish Personal Relationships
Establishing personal relationships with people on the other side can go a long way toward breaking down inaccurate and hostile stereotypes and increasing interpersonal and intergroup understanding. While this alone does not bring about conflict resolution, it can transform the character of the conflict, making it more constructive.
Story Telling
Story telling can be used to an advantage to express the intensity of ideas and feelings and to establish a bond and level of understanding between disputants that is hard to attain otherwise.
Stereotype-Breaking Actions
Unrealistic and overly hostile stereotypes can often be broken or at least limited when a party unexpectedly takes some type of conciliatory action which would have been unthinkable had the stereotype been true. Sometimes called "disarming" moves (though they have nothing to do with military disarmament), these are actions that are surprisingly reasonable. They help break down negative stereotypes as they prove that the enemy is actually reasonable and likable.
Prejudice Reduction Programs
A variety of approaches can be utilized to reduce prejudice, most involving improved communication between people and groups, and more interpersonal contact and positive interactions. Often this is done in workshop settings; other times in the course of joint projects or peacebuilding programs.
One way to encourage forgiveness and reconciliation is to offer compensation or restitution for damage or violence done in the past.
Establishment of Civil Society
The establishment and strengthening of non-governmental institutions for more constructively dealing with conflict also plays an important role in conflict transformation.


Strategies for dealing with problems with the processes which the parties use to negotiate voluntary agreements.

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Negotiation can be considered the fundamental form of dispute resolution.   Essentially it involves two or more parties working together to examine their interests and needs, and working out a solution that will give the best possible outcome to both sides.  This can be done cooperatively, as it is in principled negotiation, or it can be done in a competitive way as is typical in distributive bargaining.
Official (Track 1) diplomacy
Official diplomacy is one of the most obvious and common international conflict management and conflict resolution processes. While official diplomacy faces many obstacles in the case of intractable conflict, it is still essential. However, diplomats should try to move away from positional bargaining as much as possible, and adopt more integrative approaches to international problem solving.
Identifying Ripe Times for Negotiation
The possibility of successfully negotiating an agreement can be greatly increased when the parties understand  how to determine when the time is "ripe" for negotiated settlement and how to encourage the "ripening" process.
Identifying and Pursuing Negotiable Sub-Issues
One key to effective negotiation is for the parties to separately consider the various sub-issues which characterize their relationship. This allows them to undertake mutually beneficial agreements on some issues, even while they struggle with the serious unresolved conflicts in other areas.
Negotiation Loopbacks
Often disputing parties will attempt negotiations to resolve a conflict, but one (or more) parties will drop out of the negotiations because they think they can get a better outcome using another approach (which usually involves some form of force). However, the force-based strategy does not need to be pursued to the "bitter-end." Rather, once the relative power of the parties is clear, the disputants can return to negotiation to peacefully implement an agreement that reflects the true power relationships of the parties at that time.
Principled Negotiation
Principled negotiation, described by Fisher and Ury in Getting to Yes, is a four-step negotiation strategy based on interests. In cases where there are reasonable prospects for an agreement which benefits all parties, and the parties have a relationship which allows them to explore such opportunities, principled negotiation can be an extremely effective conflict resolution approach.
Soft Bargaining
Soft bargaining is a negotiation strategy in which primary emphasis is on the preservation of friendly relationships with the other parties. While this approach reduces the level of conflict, it also increases the risk that one party will be exploited by others who use hard bargaining techniques.
Hard Bargaining
Hard bargaining strategies emphasize results over relationships. Hard bargainers will insist that their demands be completely agreed to and accepted before any agreement is possible. While this approach avoids the need to make concessions, it also reduces the likelihood of successfully negotiating an agreement, and usually harms the relationship with the other party as well.
Distributive Bargaining
Distributive bargaining is an alternative to principled negotiation in which the parties assume that the conflict is structured in a win-lose way and the best strategy is to bargain over who is going to get how much. Distributive bargaining tends to be much more competitive and adversarial than principled negotiation, as each party tries to do better than the others in the negotiation.
"Yesable" Propositions
Yesable propositions are suggested settlements that are likely to be agreed to because they meet the other parties' interests and needs.  This essay explains how negotiation can be more effective if the negotiators try to develop "yesable propositions."
Third-Party Intervention
In cases where the parties are unable to negotiate, or even communicate effectively with one another, a trusted intermediary can play an important role in helping the parties communicate more effectively. Third parties can also provide mediation or arbitration (see below). Even when conflicts are being confronted, not resolved, third parties can help both parties confront the issues more effectively than they could alone.
Mediation is a form of third-party intervention in which the mediator helps the parties negotiate an agreement which they then have the option of accepting or rejecting. In some cases, mediators play a problem-solving role focused upon negotiating an agreement to the immediate dispute. In other cases mediation focuses more upon improving relationships, with the assumption that the improved relationship will lead to conflict resolution or constructive confrontation.
Consensus Building
Consensus building is essentially multi-party mediation. While mediation typically involves two disputants and a mediator, consensus building is an extension of the same principles to disputes which involve ten, twenty, or even fifty or one hundred parties.
Utilize a Skilled, Credible Third Party
Sometimes a third party is not credible or reliable. They may have a conflict-of-interest and work for a solution that favors themselves and/or one side of the conflict more than the other, or they may not have the skills necessary to intervene successfully. By providing a third party who is skilled and credible, these problems can be surmounted, and often significant progress can be made where none was made before.
New Leader Briefings
When new people enter a negotiation or become leaders of a group involved in an ongoing conflict, it is essential that they be fully briefed about the history of the conflict and conflict management processes. Although it is inevitable that the new people will not see things exactly the same way as the people they replace, less disruption of the conflict management process will occur if the new people at least enter the process understanding what is going on and what has gone on before.
Common Ground Projects
Common ground projects do not attempt to resolve a conflict's core issues. Instead they focus upon identifying points of common ground or areas in which the parties can agree. This can then provide a basis for transforming relationships, which will eventually allow the parties to more constructively address the more difficult core issues in dispute.
Deadlines, Compliance Guarantees, and Self-Enforcing Agreements
The inclusion of deadlines (and penalties for a failure to meet these deadlines) can help assure parties that the provisions of an agreement will be carried out. This can reduce the risk that a lack of trust between the parties will block an agreement that would otherwise benefit all the parties.  Deadlines within the negotiation process can also assure that a party who prefers maintaining the status quo cannot delay the negotiations indefinitely. When the parties' distrust each other's willingness to keep commitments, it is also possible to design a settlement that has agreements that are dependent upon the other parties' performance, which also reduces the need for trust to finalize any agreement.
Brainstorming is a process in which the parties are asked to  generate as many options for approaching a problem as they can. People are encouraged to think creatively and build off each others' ideas--without critically examining any of the ideas until later. The goal is to come up with new ways of approaching problems from those which had been identified before
Pre-Negotiation/Negotiation of Process Issues
Often it is necessary to negotiate about the structure or process of  negotiation before the "real" negotiations take place.  In pre-negotiation, disputants can decide who is going to be at the table, what the agenda is going to be, how the negotiations will be structured, what the ground rules will be, etc.  This can help the negotiations get started more effectively than if all of these matters are also in dispute when negotiations begin. 
UN Good Offices
Because the United Nations is widely believed to be fair, impartial, and committed to peace, it often has the prestige needed to successfully intervene in situations where others would not be accepted.
Peacemaking is essentially negotiation of an agreement formally ending a particular dispute. This is then followed by peacebuilding which implements the agreement and brings the parties back together in some sort of "normal" relationship.
Getting People to The Table
Negotiation cannot succeed unless the right people are at the negotiating table. A number of strategies are available to 1) determine who should be at the table and to 2) induce them to come. These strategies are discussed here. 
Constituent Involvement Strategies
As a negotiation proceeds, constituent involvement strategies help negotiators involve their constituents in the process. This is critical, since constituents are less likely to accept an agreement that is obtained if they have not be involved in the process enough to understand why the agreement was designed as it was (especially why certain compromises were made) and why it is the best alternative available.
Provide Forum
If no negotiating forum is available, one must be established.  While parties can do this themselves, it is often more easily accomplished with the assistance of a third party mediator or facilitator.
Negotiate with Legitimate Representatives
Negotiation with illegitimate representatives seldom works. Parties involved in negotiation need to make sure that the people they are negotiating with really do represent the constituency they purport to represent. If they do not, it is essential to find out who does legitimately represent that group and negotiate with them. If a group has no legitimate leader, there is no point in negotiating until one can be established.
Negotiation Skill Development
Sometimes one or more parties is not very skilled in negotiation, and they can get seriously overpowered by parties that are experienced and skilled.  For this reason, training in negotiation skills can be very helpful to equalizing the power differences, therefore increasing the likelihood of a fair outcome from a negotiation process.


Approaches to conflict which combine two or more of the categories or treatment strategies described above

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When a conflict  is too complex or deep-rooted to be resolved in its entirety, there are usually incremental steps that can be taken to make the situation better.
People or groups involved in intractable conflicts are almost always better off if they carefully assess their sources of power and build up those sources of power as much as possible before confronting their opponents. Empowerment also involves developing a strategy for using power wisely-- employing a mix of constructive confrontation techniques which are most likely to produce benefits with the lowest costs. (Keep in mind that "power" is being used here in a broad sense, to include exchange and integrative strategies as well as force). Empowerment is especially important to groups which start out in a low-power position, which puts them at a disadvantage in almost all confrontational situations. Negotiation, for example, often does not work well when the parties negotiating have extremely unequal power. Often third parties will undertake empowerment of the lower-power party in order to alleviate this situation.
Advocacy Advisors
While strategic planning can be done by disputing parties on their own, sometimes it is useful to obtain advice from an outside consultant, who can provide insight into different confrontation options. Advocacy advisors intervene in a conflict on behalf of one of the parties and not as a neutral intermediary. Their goal is to apply their knowledge of conflict processes to the party's effort to advance their own interests. Differing types of advocacy advisors specialize in different approaches to conflict. For example, lawyers specialize in litigation-based strategies, political advisors specialize in elections, lobbyists specialize in influencing the legislative process, labor organizers specialize in strikes and other job actions, and community organizers specialize in non-violent direct action, while religious leaders specialize in moral arguments and military advisors specialized in armed conflict. There can also be general advocacy advisors who show the parties how all of these strategies might be used in combination.
Goal Clarification
It is very difficult to succeed in a conflict if one is not clear from the outset about one's goals. One of the earliest steps in constructive confrontation is therefore the clarification of one's goals to determine exactly what the problem is and what solution is sought.
Insider-Partial Mediation
Although the North American model of mediation relies on an outsider, impartial mediator, in other societies, people who are connected to the conflict, and even partial to one side, are often more effective mediators, as they are trusted by the people to be fair and to be committed to fair agreement which they will help implement and enforce.
Identify Sources of Power/Power Strategy Mix
Usually, using several power strategies in combination is more effective than using just one approach alone. Careful framing, the control of complicating problems, and the use of forcing, integrative, and trading power are much more effective when used in combination than when used separately.
Analytical Problem Solving
Analytical problem solving is an approach to difficult conflicts developed by conflict scholars John Burton, Herbert Kelman, and others which focuses upon systematically analyzing a conflict to determine the degree to which fundamental human needs of the parties are being met. In cases where there are significant unmet needs, analytical problem solving examines options for meeting those needs as a way of resolving the conflict.
Conflict Transformation
Many scholars and practitioners are beginning to focus more on the goal of transforming conflicts, rather than resolving them. Transformation refers to a change in the nature of the relationship between the disputing parties, not just a settlement of interest-based differences. The ultimate goal of conflict transformation is reconciliation--a return to normal relations between disputing groups where each side accepts the legitimacy of the other's identity and aspirations, apologizes for and forgives the other for  past aggressive or violent acts.
Transformative Mediation
Transformative mediation, a concept developed by Baruch Bush and Joe Folger in the Promise of Mediation, focuses on helping parties to transform their underlying relationship through empowerment and recognition. It is different from the more common problem-solving approach to mediation which emphasizes short term dispute settlement more than long-term relationships.
Dispute Systems Design
Dispute systems design is a concept developed in Getting Disputes Resolved by William Ury , Jeanne Brett, and Stephen Goldberg. Dispute handling systems are designed for organizations and communities that have to deal with a continuing series of disputes over similar issues. The goal of dispute system design is to develop and implement a system which directs each dispute to the appropriate dispute handling process. While interest-based processes are best in most cases, Ury, Brett, and Goldberg recognize that there are also disputes which must be resolved on the basis of rights, as well as those which are resolved by determining who is more powerful.
Reality Testing
In deciding which conflict management strategy is most promising, parties must make assumptions about their own power, their opponent's power, and the likely outcomes of different options. It is easy to make inaccurate assessments of any of these factors, however. Often an outside party can help review the accuracy of these assumptions and help parties revise them appropriately when they are invalid.
Preventive Diplomacy/Conflict Prevention
Preventative diplomacy or conflict prevention analyzes current problems and trends to identify situations which seem likely to escalate if not effectively managed. Steps can then be taken to remedy the situation before the conflict escalates so much that it becomes difficult to deal with. If successful, this approach can eliminate the need for dispute resolution activities by avoiding the conflict in the first place.
Constructive Confrontation
Constructive confrontation is a strategy developed by Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess which focuses upon helping the parties develop more constructive strategies for pursuing inevitable confrontations. It is an incremental approach which involves diagnosing particular conflict problems, and then designing remedies for those problems so that the resulting conflict is more constructive.
Conflict management training can also serve as an intervention strategy. By helping people involved in conflicts better understand what is going on and what options they have for dealing with their problems in constructive ways, it is possible to provide lasting assistance which will have impact  far beyond any outside conflict resolution intervention.
Stable Peace
Kenneth Boulding introduced the concept of "stable peace" which is the situation when two parties do not even consider war to be an option, no matter what conflict occurs between them. Examples would be the relationship between the United States and Canada, or the countries of Western Europe. Boulding foresaw the region of stable peace to be expanding, predicting that it would eventually cover much of the globe.
Coercive Diplomacy
Coercive diplomacy is an approach to international negotiations which relies heavily on the use of threat as a means of convincing parties to accept an agreement.


Click here to go to Treatment List 1:  Treating Complicating Factors

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