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

Confidentiality Rules

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    Often public policy and international negotiations are most successful if they are carried out privately.  Representatives often feel freer to brainstorm creative solutions, if they do not have to maintain the accepted policies or positions for the benefit of public observation.  When the public is watching, negotiators more often will continue to hold firm to their extreme positions in an effort to prove to their own constituencies how "tough" they are.  Thus, negotiation, mediation, and consensus-building processes are often more successful if the disputants and any third parties (mediators, for example) agree to keep the details of their discussions confidential until an agreement is reached. 

    Sometimes when private cases are mediated, the settlement remains confidential.  This is one of the characteristics that many people like about mediation as it is practiced in the West.  People can work out their differences in a private forum, without ever having to acknowledge those differences or the way in which they were settled.  If the settlement involves a public issue, however, the end result (and often the highlights of the negotiations leading up to it) must be made public.

Links to Examples of Confidentiality

Norway's Back-channel Success Story
Privacy was key to the success of these negotiations.
Deborah Kolb --Quaker Mediation in Sri Lanka in when Talk Works
One of the hallmarks of the Quaker approach to mediation is its confidentiality.
C. R. Mitchell -- Track Two Triumphant? Reflections on the Oslo Process and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East
This is another description of the Oslo process in which confidentiality played such an important role.
David Oliver Mendelsohn -- Mediation: A Gang Prevention Strategy
Confidentiality was necessary, in this case, to get the disputants involved.   Otherwise, they would have feared prosecution for what they said, and the process could not possibly have succeeded.

Links to Related Approaches

Public Information Strategy

Clear Rules and Procedural Expectations

Ground Rules

Links to Related Problems

Secrecy and Deception

Inflammatory Statements

Inflammatory Statements

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