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

Long Term Struggle

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Parties often focus exclusively upon their immediate, short-term dispute in the belief that short-term victory will resolve the conflict once and for all.   This seldom happens in intractable conflicts, however. Even when short term victory is obtained, future related disputes are likely to follow.  Often parties with a short-term focus find themselves unprepared for the next dispute which arises when their opponent, who was inspired by the backlash effect, launches a more powerful counter-attack.  In this sense, pursuing an effective long-term strategy is likely to be essential for both empowered and disempowered parties.

A strategy of long-term struggle is also the best option available to parties who do not have the power, over the short term, that they need to resist the forced-based strategies of their opponents. By slowly working to build up their forcing power, exchange power, and integrative power, they can put themselves in a stronger position for the upcoming disputes.  Often progress is slow, but modest improvements in one's position can be made with each successive dispute. Such a slow approach is also likely to generate less resistance (backlash) from the opponent--thus the end result may be more is gained faster than with a strong struggle initially.  In addition to providing a slow advance in one's position, the long-term approach provides time for integrative strategies to change the underlying relationship between the parties in ways which may begin to resolve the underlying issues and reconcile the adversaries.

A long-term strategy for a minority, disempowered group might, for example, start with efforts to draw national and international attention to their problems and the injustices they face.  Here they will likely be most effective if they stress violations of generally recognized principles of justice, not affronts that are likely to seem justified by others who are not in their group.  As public awareness and support for their plight grows, the disempowered group might try to organize an economic boycott against their oppressors. They might also initiate a series of lawsuits designed to set legal precedents that will eventually permit them to challenge the injustice directly. (This is the strategy that the NAACP used in building its legal challenge to racial segregation in the United States.) The parties might also engage in coalition-building efforts aimed at eventually electing sympathizers to public office. While none of these approaches, alone, will work to remedy the injustice, nor will any of these approaches work quickly, together they are likely to make progress, which a short term violent approach is unlikely to do.

While some societies seem to adapt very easily to this long-term approach, others, including the United States, seem to prefer a short-term strategy focused upon finding a quick solution. People in these cultures are often more likely to pursue a "quick fix" approach, even when prospects for success are not good.


Links to Related Sections


Strategic Retreat

Identify Sources of Power / Power Strategy Mix

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