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.
International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict
Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA
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Escalation and the intense emotions and anger it generates seem, fortunately, to be somewhat unstable. In the absence of a continuing provocation, the level of escalation tends to diminish. This suggests that one goal of de-escalation efforts is to simply to limit the number and frequency of provocation, which allows more time for de-escalatory efforts to have the time they need to succeed. In addition, replacing provocative statements and language with de-escalatory language can be very helpful.
For example, it is useful to replace accusatory "you" statements with less provocative "I" statements. Also, parties should try to resist the temptation to insult their opponents, and make exaggerated statements about the threats they present. Here it is common for the members of the group to compete for position within the group by promising to take the toughest stand against the group's enemies. This, in turn, results in a kind of race in which leaders compete with one another by making ever-more extreme and provocative statements. Not surprisingly, opponents are likely to respond with their own provocations. What is needed are leaders who are willing to tone down their rhetoric by explaining their constituents that this kind of de-escalatory approach is more likely to advance their interests than more inflammatory, "hard line" approaches.
Even more beneficial are disarming statements. Here the parties make surprisingly conciliatory statements which their opponent would never have believed possible. If the seriousness of these statements can be demonstrated, it becomes possible to establish a de-escalatory spiral in which opposing parties compete to prove that their peaceful intentions are as strong as their opponents'. If this is to work, however, it is important that the statements be backed up by corresponding actions.
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