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

Advocacy Advisors

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It is pointed out in the exchange/negotiation section that negotiation is a learned skill and that low-skilled parties are likely to be at a significant disadvantage in any negotiation process.  The same thing is true in integrative and force-based advocacy efforts.  Effective advocacy requires a good understanding of what advocacy options are available, how these strategies work,  what works best under what circumstances, what resources are needed, and how to get and utilize those resources most effectively.   This kind of knowledge comes from experience.  Without it, parties who are involved in a difficult conflict for the first time are likely to be at a serious disadvantage.

For this reason, the Burgesses have proposed the creation and utilization of a person who might be called an advocacy advisor--a person who is familiar with all forms of advocacy and conflict resolution, and who can help disputants craft and implement a strategy that works well for them.  In the United States, people play a variety of roles that are similar to advocacy advisors:  political strategists give advice on using political means to accomplish your ends; lawyers can advise and assist in using the justice system; community organizers can help raise awareness about a cause and get people working together on advocacy efforts.  Few people, however, have a breadth of knowledge about many different confrontation strategies--combining integrative, exchange, and threat power in an optimum "power strategy mix." 

Although one cannot now go out and hire a person who calls him or herself an advocacy advisor, trying to find someone--or a group of people--who have a broad range of knowledge and experience with a variety of approaches to conflict can help in the conflict framing, scoping, and strategizing process and can help parties devise and implement a strategy that is likely to be more successful than if they were to develop an approach without such assistance.

Links to more information about advocacy advisors -

Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess--Advocacy Advisors and the The Neutrality/Empowerment Problem
This is an essay on advocacy advisors which was prepared for a conference discussing their use in the United States.  Here the main focus is on avoiding ethical problems, because mediators often work to empower the low power group, which often compromises their neutrality.  If this job were undertaken by advocacy advisors, the parties would likely get better advice and the mediator's role would not be compromised.
Ricky Wiser - Constructive Confrontation: Nuts and bolts Advice for Activists
Ricky Wiser is a long time environmental advocate who gives wise advice on how to effectively influence decision makers without making them angry.

Links to Related Approaches

Joint Reframing/Assisted Reframing

Assisted Scoping

Option Inventory and Costing

Non-Violent Struggle


Links to Related Problems

Failing to Identify Available Options for Dealing with the Situation

New, Poorly Informed Participants

Neglecting Opportunities for Persuasion

Ineffective Persuasion

Power Imbalances

Inexperienced Parties


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