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

Unofficial Communication, Citizen Diplomacy, and Multi-track Diplomacy

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In situations in which official, diplomatic communications between countries or between a government and an insurgent group have broken down, unofficial channels can often operate effectively. The terms "track two" or "citizen" diplomacy refer to unofficial contacts between people–usually ordinary citizens– which can later pave the way for official "first track" or "track one" diplomacy.

As originally conceived by Joe Montville, the term "track two diplomacy" refers to private citizens negotiating topics that are usually reserved for official negotiations–the formal resolution of an ongoing conflict or arms reductions, for example. Over time, however, the term has come to be used more broadly: to encompass processes such as problem-solving workshops, dialogues, cultural and scientific exchanges, traveling artists, sports teams, or any other contacts between people whose groups are currently engaged in an intractable conflict. John McDonald and Louise Diamond invented the term "multi-track diplomacy" to convey the sense that there are many ways to bring people together in addition to official negotiations. They list nine tracks: 1) official (track one) diplomacy; 2) unofficial, yet professional conflict resolution processes, 3) international business negotiations and exchanges, 4) citizen exchanges (such as teacher exchanges), 5) international research, education, and training efforts, 6) activism, 7) contacts and exchanges between religious leaders and followers, 8) international funding efforts, and 9) public opinions and communication programs.

The value of such unofficial contacts between opposing sides is that they can often de-escalate a conflict before any official negotiations can do so. These contacts can build bridges between people, increase trust, and foster mutual understanding. They can serve to correct misperceptions and unfounded fears, and can reverse the trend toward dehumanization and the entrenchment of enemy images that often occurs in escalated conflicts. Often the de-escalation that results from such contacts is necessary, before official negotiations will be considered politically possible.


Links to examples of this Approach

C. R. Mitchell -- Track Two Triumphant? Reflections on the Oslo Process and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East
This article discusses how track two diplomacy contributed to the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO.
Harold Saunders -- Prenegotiation and Circum-negotiation: Arenas of the Peace Process
This article discusses the relationship between various diplomatic "tracks" (or what Saunders calls "arenas" of the peace process) and how they interrelate and support each other.
Jay Rothman -- Conflict Management Policy Analysis
This article illustrates the importance of track two, problem solving workshops as an alternative to the more adversarial first track diplomatic approaches.
John W. McDonald -- Further Exploration of Track Two Diplomacy
Although this article is entitled "track-two diplomacy," it actually discusses all of the tracks identified by Louise Diamond and John McDonald and shows how they relate to official, track one diplomatic efforts.

Links to Outside Sources of Information

Field Diplomacy A New Conflict Prevention Paradigm  - Reychler


Links to Related Approaches

Dialogue Projects

Analytical Problem Solving

Official (Track 1) diplomacy


Links to Related Problems

Communication Problems

Integrative System Problems

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