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


Short-Term and Long-Term Conflicts

Many conflict scholars make a distinction between short-term conflicts that can be relatively easily resolved (often called "disputes"), and long-term conflicts that involve non-negotiable issues that tend to resist resolution. Typically, short-term conflicts or disputes involve interests that are negotiable. That means that it is possible to find a solution that meets each side's interests and needs--at least partially. For example, it generally is possible to find an agreeable price for a piece of merchandise. The seller may want more, the buyer may want to pay less, but they usually can agree on a price which is acceptable to both. Likewise, co-workers may disagree about who is to do what task in an office. After negotiation, each may have to do something they did not want to do, but in exchange they will get enough of what they did want to settle the dispute.

Long-term conflicts, on the other hand, usually involve non-negotiable issues. They may involve deep-rooted value differences, high-stakes distributional questions, or conflicts about who dominates whom. Fundamental needs for identity, security, and recognition are often at issue as well. None of these issues are negotiable--people will not compromise fundamental values, nor will they give up their chance for a better life by submitting to continued injustice or domination, nor will they change or give up their self-identity.

While many disputes stand alone and are really settled permanently, others are part of a continuing long-term conflict. For example, each round of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S.-Vietnam War, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan--as long as some of these were, were all short-term conflicts or "disputes" in the context of the Cold War--which was a long-term conflict. However, as that example illustrates, even the most resolution-resistant conflicts can be transformed and resolved. While the U.S. and Russia are not "best friends," their relationship is certainly much more positive now that it was during the Cold War, and expectations for a U.S.-Russian war are much more remote.

While this training program is useful for all kinds of conflicts and disputes, it is primarily designed to help people better deal with highly resolution-resistant conflicts. While we will touch lightly on techniques for resolving simpler disputes, our emphasis will be on the management, or what we call "constructive confrontation" of intractable or resolution-resistant conflicts.

Click here to see a diagram which further illustrates the relationship between conflict and disputes. *INSERT*

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