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

Third Party Not Effective or Credible

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Many facilitated dialogues and mediation efforts fail because the facilitator or mediator does not do a good job or lacks credibility with one or more sides to the conflict. One of the most common problems is that the third party is perceived to be unfair. He or she may be perceived to favor one side over another, or may be thought to be more interested in their own, third, agenda, rather than the interests and/or needs of the disputants themselves. Another problem may be that the third party does not have an adequate background to do a good job. He or she may not understand the nature of the dispute well enough to be an effective facilitator, or she may not understand the parties' cultural biases or constraints. If a mediator comes from a different culture than one or all of the disputants, problems with mutual understanding and trust are often more pronounced.

A related problem is the extent of commitment that the mediator makes. It is often said that a conflict takes as long to get out of as it takes to get into. This means that protracted conflicts, that have gone on for many years take may years to resolve. A mediator who comes into a mediation process for a few weeks--or even months--but who is not ready to really get to know the people and the cultures, and to stay with them for the long term-will likely not be as trusted or be as effective as someone who is willing to give the time and commitment necessary to see the long-running process through to its conclusion.


Links to Examples of This Problem:

John Paul Lederach, "From War to Peace"
Lederach discusses why the Persian Gulf War occurred and what might have been done to prevent it. Mediation was not tried, he said, because of differing notions in the U.S. and in Iraq regarding who would be a credible mediator.
Moorad Mooradian -- Mediation Efforts in the Karabakh Conflict
Mooradian observes that mediation failed in the Karabakh conflict because the third parties were more interested in pursuing their own self-interests than in resolving the conflict.
Hugh Wyndham -- The Falklands: Failure of a Mission
Wyndham describes the failure of mediation in the Falklands as being largely caused by poor mediation.
William Maley --Peacemaking Diplomacy: United Nations Good Offices in Afghanistan
This story of U.N. involvement in Afghanistan asserts that mediator credentials are highly important and do not come automatically from one's association with organization such as the United Nations.

Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Utilize a Skilled, Credible Third Party


Links to Related Problems:

Failed Mediation

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