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

Neglecting Opportunities for Persuasion

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Often people in conflict assume that the other side is completely unreasonable, and is unwilling to listen to any persuasive argument. The use of force or coercion, it is often assumed, is the only way to prevail. For this reason, people in some cultures tend to turn to violent or coercive strategies more quickly and more frequently than they need to. They do not even consider trying to use more positive strategies--such as persuasion or negotiation--because they assume that any such effort will be a waste of time or resources, and may suggest one's own willingness to fight for one's rights is weak. This outcome is especially likely when one's opponent refuses to listen to persuasive arguments or accept requests to negotiate.

When conflicts involve groups, not just individuals, different members of each group will vary in their opinions and in the strength of their opposition to the other side. Often it is assumed that the entire group believes what the leadership believes. At other times, the leadership may be fairly moderate, but a few extremists will get coverage by the media (since extreme stories are sometimes considered more "newsworthy"). When this happens, people often assume that all members of the opposition are as extreme as the people described by the media. They therefore conclude that the opposition as a whole is unreasonable, and that no effort at persuasion stands a chance of succeeding.


Links to Examples of this Problem:

Ruth Heimburg --Extremists versus Police -- A Tragedy for All
This is a story about the U.S. government's response to an extremist group which killed a number of federal agents. Rather than trying to use persuasion to get the group members to surrender, the government relied on threats and force, which resulted in further escalation of the conflict and eventually over ninety deaths.
Claude Rakisits -- The Gulf Crisis: Failure of Preventive Diplomacy
This article examines why preventive diplomacy failed to prevent the Gulf Crisis in 1991. One reason, Rakisits argues, is that Kuwait steadfastly refused to negotiate with Iraq, apparently leaving Iraq with no choice but to drop its demands or to invade.
Gareth Evans -- Failure to employ preventive diplomacy to avert Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait
In a second article on the Gulf Crisis, Evans points out that Kuwait felt that it could not compromise until Iraq withdrew its threat and Iraq felt that it could not withdraw until Kuwait agreed to negotiate.

Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Power Strategy Mix

Option Inventory/Costing

Opening Communication Channels


Links to Related Problems:

Ineffective Persuasion

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