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


Opening Page | Glossary | Menu Shortcut Page

Compensation and restitution are payments made to victims of conflict which are intended either to remedy the current situation or compensate for past losses (for instance loss of life) which cannot be remedied.  These payments may or may not be monetary.  In the United States, we have tried to compensate Blacks and other minority groups for past discrimination (and even slavery) by instituting programs such as affirmative action, which give preferential treatment to minority group members in college acceptance and hiring decisions.  In South Africa and elsewhere, land restitution is intended to compensate people whose land was confiscated during the Apartheid era.   Other forms of compensation or restitution include returning property that was confiscated or stolen, or acknowledging wrong-doing and the victim's suffering through commemorative events. Although restitution usually cannot completely undo the damage done in a violent or protracted conflict, it does serve as a formal apology--an admission that what was done was wrong--and it helps to make the lives of the survivors better, allowing for some degree of normalization and potentially reconciliation to take place.

Compensation can also help prevent conflicts.  One common form of environmental conflict is what, in the U.S., are called NIMBY conflicts--for "not in my backyard."  NIMBY conflicts develop when a new facility is proposed and people don't want it located near where they live.  It might be a hazardous waste landfill, or a prison, or a factory, or a power plant.  People tend to oppose the location of such facilities nearby, where it will potentially emit hazardous materials, add noise and traffic, or otherwise pose a degradation of the neighborhood.  By offering to compensate the neighbors for any harm that occurs, NIMBY conflicts can sometimes be avoided or resolved relatively quickly, while, without the promise of compensation, they often drag on for years.


Links to More information About Compensation and Restitution

Jose Zalaquett -- Confronting Human Rights Violations Committed by Former Governments
This article discusses ways of compensating people for past human rights violations.   It also discusses preventive measures that can be taken to prevent a recurrence of such human rights abuses.
Mary Albon --  Justice in Times of Transition
In this article on transitional justice, Albon asserts that making restitution to victims is a particular potent form of acknowledgement.
Neil J. Kritz -- The Dilemmas of Transitional Justice
This article also examines the dilemmas presented to new regimes regarding how to deal with the survivors of the old regimes.  Whether or not to make restitution is one of the dilemmas; others include whether to prosecute members of the old regime, or to grant them amnesty.
Davis, Albie. "The Logic Behind the Magic of Mediation"
Davis recounts an example of mediation "magic". She describes the community mediation of a case involving the burglary and vandalism of a woman's home by a group of neighborhood youths. Within mediation the woman was able to express her loss. The youths came to understand the harm they had done. They apologized and agreed to make restitution. In addition, the oldest youth shared his prior prison experience with the younger children and urged them to avoid his mistakes. Davis identifies the elements of mediation which help such "magical" events to occur.
Aspen Institute--Conflict Prevention: Strategies to Sustain Peace in the Post-Cold War World
This article briefly describes the South African Truth Commission which investigated human rights violations and facilitated restitution.
Tanya Glaser--Truth and Reconciliation Commission; South Africa
The reparation and Rehabilitation arm of the Reconciliation commission helped victims get needed medial, financial, educational and/or psychological help.
Goldberg, Green and Sander--Saying You're Sorry
In this essay, the authors discuss the utility of apologies in conflict resolution. They make the point that apologies are most effective when they are combined with compensation.



Links to Outside Information on Compensation and Restitution

Rwanda: Accountability for War Crimes and Genocide--United States Institute of Peace - Special Report

Victim-Offender Mediation Association - Articles and Publications
Note:  There are a number of useful full text articles here including one on Family Group Conferences, an alternative to Victim-Offender Reconciliation which has been widely used in Australia and New Zealand.
Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) Information and Resource Center
This center also has a number of useful full text articles on mediation of violent and non-violent crimes.


Links to Related Approaches

Criminal Prosecution

Amnesty / Forgiveness



Links to Related Problems

Human Rights/War Crime Problems

Illegitimate/ Excessive Use of Force

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