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

Negotiate with Legitimate Representatives

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Negotiation with illegitimate representatives seldom works. Even if an agreement is reached, it will probably not be ratified (if ratification is necessary), and will not be followed because the people who were supposedly represented at the negotiating table are likely to feel that they were not adequately represented, and thus are likely to oppose and violate any agreement that is reached. 

Parties involved in negotiation need to make sure that the people they are negotiating with really do represent the constituency they purport to represent.   While sometimes this is obvious (if they are government officials of a dually constituted government, for example), but at other times it is not.  Representation is especially problematic in the case of loosely structured and loosely defined groups that do not have any one leader or leadership structure.  If the negotiators do not seem to be accepted by their constituents, it is essential to find out who does legitimately represent that group and negotiate with them.  If a group has no legitimate leader, there is no point in negotiating until one can be established.


Links to More Information on This Approach

Hendrik W. van der Merwe et al. -- Principles of Communication Between Adversaries in South Africa
One of the principles listed in this essay is that negotiating parties must accurately represent their constituencies.
Joan Broder -- Mediation in Ireland: The Impact of Small Beginnings
This article discusses the importance of recognizing all of the parties to a conflict.   In this case, Northern Irish Nationalists came to realize that the IRA did not represent all of the people in Northern Ireland, but that the Protestants too needed a representative in the negotiating process.
Clem McCarthy -- Conflict Resolution In Northern Ireland: Reconciling Form and Substance
In contrast to the earlier article, in this article the IRA is the the party that is excluded from the negotiations, even though they were the legitimate representative of a major party in the Northern Ireland conflict.

Links to Related Approaches

Getting People to the Table

Constituent Involvement Strategies


Links to Related Problems

No Legitimate Party to Negotiate With

Wrong (or Missing) Parties at the Table

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