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

Majority Rule Processes

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Majority rule processes do not require consensus for group action. Instead, decisions are made by voting with a majority determining the position of the entire group. This approach has the advantage of being able to produce a prompt and clear decision. (In may take some time before consensus processes can reach a decisions--if they can at all.) Unfortunately, majority rule processes provide only limited incentives for the parties to compromise or to find a way for dealing with  issues that serve the interests of all participants. Instead, the incentive is to compromise only enough to build a majority coalition. Once a winning coalition has been achieved, the parties are largely free to ignore the interests of other participants. This effect can be limited somewhat by rules which require super-majorities (60%, 2/3 or 3/4 for important decisions). Even with super-majorities, however, the tendency of majority rule processes is to divide society into two competing coalitions (often referred to as the right and left, or liberals and conservatives). One key to controlling what is sometimes called the "tyranny of the majority" are norms and rules which prevent the majority from disregarding the basic rights of the minority. These rights, as they are applied in a political context in the United States for example, include but are not limited to the following:


Joseph P. Folger, Marshall Scott Poole, and Randall Stutman -- Conflict and Interaction
The authors observe that conflicts may be either destructive or productive. They describe the nature of conflict generally, and then examine those features which make conflicts productive or destructive. Majority rule votes, they observe, can lead to destructive outcomes as they enforce a win-lose approach to conflict.
Susan Shearouse -- A Vote For Consensus
This essay illustrates the shortcomings of majority rule (voting) processes and suggests situations in which consensus is a superior approach to decision making
A Conversation On Peacemaking With Jimmy Carter
Carter observes that elections provide an alternative to negotiation as a peacebuilding tool which was used successfully in Panama, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.
Timothy Sisk -- Power Sharing and International Mediation in Ethnic Conflicts
This is a brief summary of Sisk's book which discusses a variety of power sharing approaches which can be used to resolve ethnic conflicts.  Some involve majority rule decision making, while others do not. 
John Prendergast --  Nested Conflict  : The Case of Ethiopia
This is a case in which elections failed to contribute towards peace.
Elise Boulding -- United Nations Peacebuiding in Namibia
Although elections sometimes escalate ethnic tensions, with UN assistance, they contributed to peacebuilding in Namibia.
Elise Boulding -- United Nations Conflict Resolution Attempts in Central America with the OAS
UN election monitoring and certification also contributed to peacebuilding in Nicaragua.
Saadia Touval -- Case Study: Lessons of Preventative Diplomacy in Yugoslavia
Democracy was expected to be the key that held Yugoslavia together, Touval states, but ironically, the suggests that democratic and it economic reforms appear to have fueled the conflict.
Links to Outside Sources of Information about Majority Rule and Making the Transition to a Democratic System
Tore Nyhamar Transitions to Democracy

Links to Related Approaches

Consensus Rule Processes

Protection of Minority Rights

Administrative Decision-making Processes

Links to Related Problems

Dictatorial Process

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