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

"Into-the-Sea" Framing and Intolerance

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When two opposing groups live in the same territory, they may either seek to find a way to live together, or one or both groups may decide that the only way to resolve the conflict is to make the other group disappear–figuratively, or perhaps literally, to push the opponents into the sea. This is the ultimate "zero-sum" or "win-lose" approach–it assumes that the very existence of the opponent is a loss for the other side. Thus, the only way one side can win is if they completely eliminate the other by force.

Needless to say, this way of framing a conflict is a recipe for disaster. There is almost never a place for the other side to go, nor would they want to go if they could. Framing the conflict in this way assures a highly destructive and protracted conflict that will not allow anyone to win. For this reason, it is essential that peacemakers work with parties to such conflicts to convince them to reframe the problem in terms of finding strategies for co-existence, not for eliminating the other side.


Links to Examples of Into-the-Sea Framing:

Tajik Opposition Proposes New Constitution
This is a story about the civil war in Tajikistan.  Here the communists were engaging in into the sea framing, while the Islamic opposition leaders seem to realize that such an approach can never work.
Quebec nationalism: The Quest for Identity
This is an example of an ethnic conflict that has not turned violent.  Both sides seem to fear that they will not be able to survive culturally.
David Brubaker -- Reconciliation in Rwanda: The Art of the Possible
The Rwandan conflict is another example of into-the-sea framing, although reframing and reconciliation is now being attempted.

Links to Outside Sources of Information about Intolerance or "Into-the-Sea Framing" :

Belief Ethnicity and Nationalism - United States Institute of Peace
This paper discusses the sources of intolerance.
Rwanda: Accountability for War Crimes and Genocide--United States Institute of Peace - Special Report
This report illustrates how into-the-sea framing led to the genocide in Rwanda.

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


Links to Possible Treatments:

Needs-Based Framing

Joint Reframing/Assisted Reframing

Mirror Imaging



Links to Related Problems:

Overly Competitive Approaches to a Conflict

Failing to Identify Available Options for Dealing with the Situation


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