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

Collective Security

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Collective security is one type of coalition building strategy in which a group of nations agree not to attack each other and to defend each other against an attack from one of the others, if such an attack is made.  The principal is that "an attack against one, is an attack against all." It differs from "collective defense" which is a coalition of nations which agree to defend its own group against outside attacks.  Thus NATO and the Warsaw Pact were examples of collective defense, while the UN is an attempt at collective security.  Proponents of collective security say it is a much more effective approach to security than individual countries trying to act alone, as weaker countries cannot possibly defend themselves, and countries that try often become involved in never-ending arms races which actually detract from, rather than enhance, their security over the long term. In addition, it is argued, collective security arrangements encourage international cooperation, while balance of power deterrence leads to competition and conflict instead.  Although the UN got bogged down in the superpower conflict during the cold war, now that that era has ended, many observers expect and hope that the UN will become a much more effective actor in protecting the security of its members.

Other scholars and diplomats, however, feel the collective security concept is misguided.  It is seen as conceptually muddled (as it is often confused with other similar concepts) and naively unrealistic.  Although they are pledged to defend each other, many countries will refuse to do so, if such an act is not in their own best interests or is thought to be too risky or expensive.  In addition, it has been argued, collective security arrangements will turn small struggles into large ones, and prevent the use of alternative (nonviolent) problem solving, relying instead on the much more costly approach of military confrontation.  In addition, there is always a danger, that alliances formed for the purposes of collective security can also service as a basis for an aggressive coalition.

Links to Examples

James Goodby--Can Collective Security Work?, Collective Security in Europe After the Cold War
In this article, Goodby examines the potential for a number of European international organizations to fulfill collective security roles.
Paul Wehr - Toward Common Security in Central America -
This paper explains the history, theory, and implementation of common security as an alternative to deterrence and other competitive or aggressive approaches to security.

Links to Outside Sources of Information

Peacekeeping, Peacemaking, and Human Rights, by Cedric Thornberry, former Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Deputy Chief of UNPROFOR in ex-Yugoslavia.

United States Institute of Peace - Special Report- Managing NATO Enlargement

Bjorn Moller UN Military Demands and Non-Offensive Defense Collective Security Humanitarian Intervention and Peace Support Operations

Links to Related Approaches

Coalition Building

Peace Zones

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