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


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Most interest groups have supporters who take an extreme view of the conflict. These extremists tend to favor outrageous and sometimes violent tactics. They are also likely to be very reluctant to accept any form of compromise. In their pursuit of complete victory, extremists often take aggressive actions which other members of the group oppose. Nevertheless, these extreme actions are often seen by the other side as representing the true feelings of the larger group. This tends to lead opponents to conclude that they must respond with extreme tactics of their own. This causes the conflict to escalate quickly, even when most of the people on both sides of the conflict are far more moderate in their views and desire much more moderate and conciliatory approaches to problem solving.

The provocative actions of extremists can also threaten broadly supported efforts to de-escalate conflicts. Examples are the many violent acts in the Middle East which were designed (and which often succeeded) in derailing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Even though most people on both sides of that conflict realize that the extremists are not typical of most of the population on either side, their attacks are so threatening and feared that the positions of many of the moderates on both sides of the conflict have hardened.

Links to Examples of Extremism:

John Prendergast -- Actors and Approaches to Peacebuilding: The Case of Sudan   
Prendergast observes that efforts at peacebuilding in the Sudan have been frustrated by the increasing polarization of the conflict and the domination of extremists.
David Stuart -- United Nations Involvement in the Peace Process in El Salvador
The job of peacebuilding in El Salvador was made more difficult by the proliferation of extremists on both sides.
Louis Kriesberg -- Starting Negotiations
The author notes that it is often easier to start negotiations if extremists are excluded--however, such exclusion can cause problems later, preventing the implementation of an enduring agreement.
Louis Kriesberg -- Factors Prompting De-escalation in the Middle East
Kriesberg notes that the range of options open to negotiators on both sides were limited by the need to deal with extremists who did not support the peace process.
Joseph Phelps -- When Dialogue is NOT our Hope
Phelps points out that dialogue is generally not helpful when extremists participate.  
Towards Conflict Resolution in the Third World [The Punjab Situation]
Escalating violence and failed mediation led to extremists taking over leadership roles in this situation.
Melissa Baumann and Hannes Siebert--The Media as Mediator
This article illustrates how the media can contribute to--or detract from extremist views.


Links to Treatments for this Problem:

Power Strategy Mix

Dealing With Extremists


Links to Related Problems:

Inaccurate and Overly Hostile Stereotypes


Out-Group /Enemy Image

Excessive Use of Force

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