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

Re-establish or Empower Traditional or New Conflict-Management Institutions

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All societies have their own traditional ways of managing and resolving conflicts, although these can cease to operate effectively in times of severe or protracted conflict. By re-establishing or empowering the traditional methods, or creating new methods if the traditional methods really can no longer work, progress toward conflict transformation can often be made.

One traditional conflict managing institution, for example, is the church. Often churches can play a conflict-moderating role, helping people to see the common humanity among disputants, and the need to make peace with "the enemy," a belief which is common to many religions. Although some religious leaders believe the church should stay out of the political arena, if they do get involved in a conflict moderating role, they can often be quite influential.

The church can also encourage the extended family to engage in conflict management, a role families have traditionally performed in most societies in the past. The same is true for communities, through both the social and legal systems.

Sometimes, conflicts change the nature of the society so significantly that new conflict management or resolution structures must be developed. One example is in the former Soviet states and other Soviet satellite countries. Once communism was abandoned, new, democratic political and legal structures needed to be established, which were very different in structure and procedure than what had gone before. This situation poses a very difficult problem, as the society must get a working system in place very quickly, usually without having a plan or the knowledge base necessary to do that. While approaches can be copied from other places to some degree, every society is different, and things that work in one place may not work in another. Therefore, dispute resolution systems need to be designed very carefully, taking into consideration the social needs the system is supposed to fulfil and the constraints present in the local situation which will determine how those needs can best be met.


Links to Examples of Empowering Traditional Conflict Management Institutions or Establishing New Ones:

Mohamed Sahnoun -- Managing Conflicts in the Post-Cold War Era
Sahnoun explores issues surrounding military and humanitarian interventions in internal identity conflicts. Re-establishing traditional conflict management institutions is one element of successful preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding, according to Sahnoun.
Pamela Aall -- Nongovernmental Organizations and Peacemaking
Aall examines the roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in peacemaking. NGOs can play a significant role, she says, in restoring civil society and building peace. But they must be careful to work in a way that empowers the local people and draws on local resources. This can help re-establish traditional, indigenous capacities to regulate and resolve conflict, while external intervention that does not empower the local people can actually make the conflict worse.

Links to Outside Examples of this Process

Communication as Engagement - A Report to the Rockefeller Foundation
This report summarizes a number of projects in U.S. cities, designed to improve communication between community members through dialogue, collaborative problem solving, and conflict resolution in an effort to resolve issues that had divided and polarized those communities.
USIP Peaceworks #11 - Zaire Predicament and Prospects
This report stresses the importance of empowering a variety of local and regional institutions to enable them to engage in peacebuilding in their regions.
Police Functions in Peace Operations--United States Institute of Peace
This report discusses the importance of maintaining or reestablishing the rule of law as a crucial element in the success of peace operation.
USIP - Special Report on Zaire
This report illustrates how traditional conflict management institutions, such as the judicial and criminal justice systems have broken down in Zaire, but they have been replaced, to some extent by a strong civil society.

U.S. Institute of Peace --Rwanda After the Genocide

U.S. Institute of Peace--Legal Help for Rwanda

U.S. Institute of Peace--Why Peace Agreements Succeed or Fail

U.S. Institute of Peace--Police Are Critical to the Peace Process


Links to Related Approaches:

Dispute Systems Design

Peacebuilding - Official Efforts of UN and Regional Organizations


Links to Related Problems:

Erosion of Traditional Conflict Management Institutions

Integrative System Does Not Exist or Is Very Weak

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