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

Denial of Identity

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Identity is one of several fundamental human needs that underlie many intractable conflicts. Human needs theorists argue that conflicts over needs are fundamentally different from conflicts over interests, because interests are negotiable, whereas needs are not.

One of the most common types of needs conflicts are conflicts over identity. These conflicts occur when a person or a group feels that his or her sense of self--who one is--is threatened, or denied legitimacy or respect. One's sense of self is so fundamental and so important, not only to one's self-esteem but also to how one interprets the rest of the world, that any threat to identity is likely to produce a strong response. Typically, this response is both aggressive and defensive, and can escalate quickly into an intractable conflict.

Identity is the primary issue in most racial and ethnic conflicts. It is also a key issue in many gender and family conflicts, when men and women disagree on the proper role or "place" of the other, or children disagree with their parents about who is in control of their lives and how they present themselves to the outside world.

Identity conflicts can be especially difficult to resolve. The opponent is often viewed as evil--even nonhuman--and their views and feelings not worthy of attention. In addition, sitting down with the opponent can be seen as a threat to one's own identity, so even beginning efforts at reconciliation can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, identity conflicts can be moderated, or even reconciled if the parties want such an outcome and are willing to work for it over a long period of time.


Links to Examples of this Kind of Conflict:

Jay Rothman--Resolving Identity-Based Conflict: In Nations, Organizations, and Communities
This is a summary of one of the leading recent books on identity conflicts.
Saadia Touval -- Case Study: Lessons of Preventative Diplomacy in Yugoslavia
In this article, Touval examines the reasons why preventive diplomacy failed in the case of the former Yugoslavia.   One of the reasons was that the need for identity of each of the cultural groups in the region was not adequately addressed, leading each group to believe that violence was the only method available to defend their own identity.
Quebec nationalism: The Quest for Identity
This article summarizes a discussion about identity and nationalism in Quebec, Canada. Both the English-speaking and the French-speaking populations feel threatened there, making the issue of nationalism in Quebec especially difficult to grapple with.
David Brubaker -- Reconciliation in Rwanda: The Art of the Possible
This is an article about the ethnic conflict in Rwanda and one effort that was made to start a reconciliation process there.
Belief Ethnicity and Nationalism - United States Institute of Peace
This paper discusses the sources of intolerance.


Links to Outside Sources of Information on Identity Conflict

Community Conflict Policy and Possibilities by Donald Horowitz
This paper discusses the nature and cause of "intractable conflicts" and compares the characteristics and methods of management of a variety of ethnic conflicts including Northern Ireland, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka.  Note:  full text is here--scroll down below information on how to order.

Tarja Vayrynen Securitised Ethnic Identities and Communal Conflicts

Bent Jorgenson Ethnic Boundaries and the Margins of the Margin

The 'Confusion' of Civilizations -- David Little
This article discusses the impact of culture and nationalism on ethnic and religious intolerance.
Serbian Nationalism and the Origins of the Yugoslav Crisis

United States Institute of Peace--Sino-Tibetan co-Existence:   Creating Space for Tibetan Self-Direction

U.S. Institute of Peace--Religion, Nationalism, and Peace in Sudan

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