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

Ground Rules

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Ground rules are the rules of conduct for a conflict resolution process, such as negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or consensus-building. They may cover disputant behavior, intermediary behavior and role, the process, or the substance of the discussions. For example, behavioral ground rules for negotiation or mediation may be that people must talk one at a time, that they must listen carefully to their opponents’ statements, or that they must treat each other with dignity and respect. Ground rules on the intermediary’s role in mediation or consensus building might include the idea that the intermediary will set an agenda for each day’s meetings, which needs to be approved by the parties, and that the intermediary will lead the discussion, giving each party and equal amount of time to talk. Process ground rules for a mediation might say that people are expected to be on time for meetings, that substitute representatives must be approved before the meeting occurs, and that observers are (or are not) allowed. Finally, substantive ground rules will define which topics are to be covered, and which not.

When the disputants are familiar with each other, and with the process, such ground rules may simply be assumed and not stated outright. If the disputants have not worked together before, however, or are not familiar with the process, explicit ground rules can be very helpful in focusing the discussions in a productive way and preventing the process from becoming side-tracked by unnecessary procedural disputes.


Links to Examples of the Use of Ground Rules

Building Trust in an Environmental Conflict
Setting ground rules was one of the important early steps in this consensus process.
Susan L. Carpenter and W.J.D. Kennedy--Adopting Procedures, Educating Parties, and Developing Options
The importance of setting ground rules is discussed in this and the following two excerpts from Carpenter and Kennedy's book on public policy dispute resolution.
Susan L. Carpenter and W.J.D. Kennedy--Handling the Human Side of the Process
See Carpenter and Kennedy, above.
Susan L. Carpenter and W.J.D. Kennedy--Guidelines for Making the Program Work
See Carpenter and Kennedy, above.


Links to Related Approaches

Consensus Building
Principled Negotiation
Treatments for Process Problems

Links to Related Problems

Inflammatory Statements
Procedural Problems

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