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.

usiplogo.gif (1499 bytes)

International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Analytical Problem Solving

Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page

This is an approach to highly deep-rooted, intractable conflicts that uses social-psychological analysis to identify the fundamental human needs that underlie the conflicts and hence hold the key to resolution. Typically, carefully chosen disputants from all sides meet with a panel of conflict scholars in a week-long workshop. The scholars help the disputants work together to analyze the fundamental sources of conflict, focusing especially on unmet human needs (such as identity, security, or recognition). After identifying these needs, the participants try to develop approaches for restructuring their societies in a way that meets the needs of all sides simultaneously.

Sometimes a one-time event, other problem solving workshops occur in a series, several months apart. Typically, these workshops involve unofficial representatives of each group, rather than official diplomats. The advantage of this is that private citizens can often take risks and think more creatively than officials who are tied to particular pre-approved approaches. Often these "track two" discussions, as they are called, are designed to pave the way toward future negotiations, though in some cases, "track two" discussions and formal ("track one") diplomatic discussions occur simultaneously. In either case, the goal of the track two discussions is to develop new approaches for dealing with difficult problems, which can be suggested to the formal negotiators who can then take the official steps to approve and implement them.


Links to Examples of Analytical Problem Solving

James Notter -- Theory, Practice, Success, and Failure: A Journey of Learning in Cyprus
This is a short description of an analytical problem solving process implemented in Cyprus.
C. R. Mitchell -- Track Two Triumphant? Reflections on the Oslo Process and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East
This article discusses the contributions of analytical problem solving workshops to the success of the Oslo Negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.   A longer discussion of the same issue is found below by Herbert Kelmen. 
Herbert C. Kelman -- Informal Mediation by the Scholar/Practitioner
This article describes the assumptions underlying analytical problem solving and describes a typical workshop.
Jay Rothman -- Conflict Management Policy Analysis   
This is a description of a boundary dispute between Israel and Egypt which was resolved with arbitration.  Rothman discusses how analytical problem solving might have yielded a more satisfactory outcome.
John Paul Lederach -- Structure: Lenses for the Big Picture
This article discusses how problem solving workshops fit into the set of peacemaking activities that can help reduce the threat of armed conflicts.
Paul Wehr--Reality Reconstruction Workshops
    This is another example of an analytical problem solving approach.
Jay Rothman--Resolving Identity-Based Conflict: In Nations, Organizations, and Communities
Rothman's ARIA approach is similar to the analytical problem solving process.  This summary gives a good overview of that approach as it has been applied in a variety of settings.
Edward Azar and John Burton - International Conflict Resolution,
This is a summary of a book which discusses the analytical problem solving approach to international conflicts. Note: this summary was originally written for a project on environmental conflicts, but it is even more applicable to this material.
Burton, John W. "Conflict Resolution as A Political Philosophy"
This article discusses the difference between dispute settlement and conflict resolution, between politically "realistic" approaches to conflict and problem solving approaches to conflict.
Kelman, Herbert, "Interactive Problem-Solving: A Social-Psychological Approach to Conflict Resolution."
These two articles describe Kelman's approach to analytical problem solving.
Montville, Joseph. "The Healing Function in Political Conflict 
This article describes the apology and forgiveness that must occur before conflicts can be transformed.

Rothman, Jay. From Confrontation to Cooperation
This book describes four approaches to conflicts--the positional dialogue approach, the activist approach, the problem-solving approach, and the human relations approach. The problem solving approach is basically analytical problem solving and is superior, Rothman demonstrates, to the other approaches for a number of reasons.

Links to Outside Sources of Information

John Burton - Conflict Resolution:Towards Problem Solving


Links to Related Approaches

Dialogue Projects

Needs-Based Framing

Citizen Diplomacy


Links to Related Problems

Confusing Material Interests With Fundamental Human Needs

Communication Problems


Illegitimate and Excessive Use of Force

The Denial of Identity

The Denial of Other Human Needs

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