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

Coalition Building

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Parties who are confronted with threats that they don't have the power to resist can often increase their power by forming coalitions with other parties. By building coalitions with other groups (or nations),  groups (or nations) with similar values and goals can combine their resources and agree to help each other.  This makes each group much more powerful than they were when they were acting alone.  If coalition building is successful,  it may be able to dramatically change the power balance and help the coalition members successfully resist  threats or make effective counterthreats.  (Unfortunately, coalition building can also help parties initiate threats or pursue illegitimate goals, in which case it is a problem.) 

Coalition building plays a central role in all three types of power (threats, exchange, and integrative power). This is because groups of people who pool their resources and work together to advance their common interests are generally more powerful than those who do not. It is also true that groups of people who fight among themselves are less able to advance their interests than those who are able to work together. Coalition building is, therefore, a classic win-win strategy (at least for the members of the coalition) which can help parties involved in many different situations.   

Coalition building is also a primary mechanism through which disempowered parties can develop their power base and thereby better defend their interests. For example, a group being subjected to continuing human rights abuses might be able to considerably enhance their power to resist by soliciting support from international organizations like Amnesty International or the United Nations. Also, low power groups are generally much more successful in defending their interests against the dominant group if they work together, rather than fighting among themselves in addition to fighting with the dominant group.  

Links to Related Sections


Collective Security

Human and Civil Rights Organizations

Deterrence, Counter-Threats (and Arms Races)

Misunderstanding the Relationship Between Threat and Force

Failure to Anticipate Opponent Reactions and the Backlash Effect

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