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

Attempting to Negotiate Nonnegotiable Issues

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Issues are what a conflict is about. They might involve interests (for example, one interest group wants more government funds for health care, while another wants more funds spent on education); they might involve values (for example, one religious group wants one curriculum for the schools, while another wants a curriculum more aligned with its belief system); or they might involve fundamental human needs (for example one group may feel that its identity or security is threatened by discriminatory government practices).

Generally, conflicts over interests are negotiable, while conflicts over fundamental values and needs are not. While there are exceptions to this simple statement, people seldom are willing to compromise their fundamental values or needs, while they can make compromises about their interests. For this reason, interest-based conflicts often can be resolved with negotiation or other consensus-based processes (such as consensus building or mediation), while value conflicts and needs conflicts cannot be resolved in this way. When value-based or need-based conflicts are approached as if they were negotiable, like interest-based conflicts, the parties often get even more frustrated and the conflicts escalate as a result. Thus, not only does negotiation or mediation not work, it can even make the situation worse than it was before.

In addition, by lumping negotiable issues in with non-negotiable issues, it often happens that nothing gets resolved. Had the issues been separated and dealt with independently, it is sometimes possible to reach agreement on the interest-based aspects of the conflict, and work on the values and needs-based aspects of the conflict in a different way.


Links to Examples of this Problem:

Gennady I. Chufrin and Harold H. Saunders -- A Public Peace Process
While this article does not describe a case of negotiating nonnegotiable issues, it does discuss the problem and explain how reframing issues is critical to successful conflict resolution.


Links to Possible Treatments for this Problem:

Negotiating Sub-issues


Links to Related Problems:

Refusal to Negotiation

Confusing Material Interests with Fundamental Human Needs

Differences in Values

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