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

Procrastination of Response

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Often disputants or third parties realize a conflict is getting out of hand, but they delay corrective efforts until the situation is really unmanageable. This sometimes is caused by the hope that the conflict will simply disappear if it is ignored.  At other times, it is caused by the disputant's discomfort with the particular conflict or conflicts in general.  Or, it may occur because the disputant or third party cannot figure out what to do that is likely to make the situation better, rather than worse.

Sometimes, time does help resolve conflicts.  Minor problems that seem like important issues one day may seem trivial the next.  So, at times, ignoring a situation does make sense.  However, if a conflict is escalating rapidly, that is likely to be a dangerous choice.  It usually makes sense to take steps to stop escalation as soon as possible.  If it is allowed to continue unchecked, conflicts can quickly become almost impossible to deal with.  On the other hand, if efforts are made to resolve a conflict before the parties are ready to do so, the effort is likely to meet with failure as well.  Thus timing one's response--either as a party, or as a third party intermediary--is of critical importance.

Links to Examples

Jeffery Rubin --Negotiation Timing
This article discusses two types of timing errors--attempting de-escalation at the wrong time, and not attempting it when the timing is good.
Saadia Touval -- Case Study: Lessons of Preventative Diplomacy in Yugoslavia
In this article, Touval observers that timing intervention in ethnic conflicts is especially difficult as they escalate and polarize so quickly.  In the case of Yugoslavia, for a long time the international community only intervened with ambiguous threats which were not backed up by force, which was completely ineffective in preventing or de-escalating the war.
Gareth Evans -- Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait in 1990: A Failure to use Preventive Diplomacy
This essay argues that the international community largely ignored Iraq's early threats regarding Kuwait, failing to act until the situation became severe. 

Links to Related Solutions

Identifying Ripe Times for Negotiation

Links to Related Problems

Poor Timing
Overlooking Ripe Moments for Negotiation

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