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


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Reconciliation is the ultimate goal of peacebuilding. It occurs when disputants develop a new relationship based on apology, forgiveness, and newly established trust. Mennonite peacebuilder John Paul Lederach describes reconciliation as "a meeting ground where trust and mercy have met, and where justice and peace have kissed." Thus, reconciliation involves all four processes. It brings people together, enabling them to grow beyond the past to re-establish a normalized, peaceful, and trusting relationship in the present.

Obviously, reconciliation is a very difficult and slow process. Lederach points out that it usually takes just as long to get out of a conflict as it takes to get into one. So for conflicts that have been going on for decades or centuries, reconciliation cannot take place in weeks or months--perhaps not even in a few years. It will take many years, perhaps decades or centuries, to fully recover. Yet progress can be made, and even incremental steps can have tremendously beneficial effects.

Reconciliation programs can take many forms. Analytical problem solving workshops or dialogue processes can help build trust and a sense of forgiveness and mercy. If they lead to wider structural or behavioral changes they can also contribute to the re-establishment of justice and peace. So can processes such as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissions which have formalized the process of apology and forgiveness. Most efforts at citizen diplomacy and grassroots peacebuilding--which brings "ordinary" citizens into a process of trust-building and cooperation with former enemies--contribute to reconciliation over the long term.


Links to Examples of Reconciliation Programs:

Note: Quite a few articles are listed below. However, many more of the articles available in this material also cover reconciliation processes as well, as the entire program is designed to facilitate reconciliation, and thus, most of the article deal with this in some way. Users are urged to browse the full article list for other items, in addition to these, that spark their interest.

Conflict Transformation by Heidi Burgess and Guy Burgess

The set of articles available at this location describe John Paul Lederach's concept of conflict transformation, discuss its components (peace, justice, truth, mercy, and reconciliation, and describe how these relate to peacebuilding).
Accounting for War Crimes in Cambodia
This article describes the issues discussed during a conference on war crimes in Cambodia. One of the major issues is the question of what can be done to bring about reconciliation with the past.
Thomas Princen--Quaker Mediation in Sri Lanka
This article describes an interview with Quaker mediator Joseph Elder on his mediation and reconciliation work in Sri Lanka.
Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe --Brezhnev visits West Germany, 1972.
This short piece describes the reconciliation that took place between Soviet leader Brezhnev and West Germany's Schmidt in 1972 (regarding World War II).
Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe -- Unilateral forgiveness proves ineffective in Nicaraguan political conflict
This is a very short counter-piece which illustrates that sometimes forgiveness fails to produce reconciliation.
Bruce Hemmer -- Bottom-up Peace Building in Bosnia
This is an article about reconciliation efforts in Bosnia
Tim Cooper -- Keeping the Peace or Making Peace?: A Mediation
This is a short article on gang conflicts in the U.S. It illustrates the difference between peace-making and peacebuilding or reconciliation. The point is that short term settlements (peace-making) are not the same as long term reconciliation, and can, at times, even short circuit the reconciliation process.
Wanda Lofton -- Systematic Forgiveness: A Possibility for African Americans?
This short article discusses the possibility of reconciliation between whites and blacks in the U.S.
Sustaining Peace in Angola
This article discusses the processes necessary for reconciliation to succeed in Angola.
South Africa's Bumpy Road to Democracy
This article describes how reconciliation has been pursued in South Africa.
James Notter -- Theory, Practice, Success, and Failure: A Journey of Learning in Cyprus
This article describes reconciliation efforts in Cyprus.
Kraybill, Ron -- "The Cycle of Reconciliation"
Kraybill describes his theory of the reconciliation cycle, drawn from his work in South Africa.  Reconciliation is a long-lasting process that goes through several stages.   It does not erase the past, but paves the way for a new future relationship based on risk taking, trust-building and the reclamation of identity.
Lederach, John Paul. "The Meeting Place"
This article describes the relationships between peace, truth, justice, and mercy, and how they all interact to yield reconciliation.
Trudy Govier -- The Ethics of Forgiveness
Grover describes reconciliation and forgiveness between victims and agents of Stasi spying in the former East Germany.
Estrada-Hollenbeck -- Understanding Forgiveness
This article looks at forgiveness as one element of reconciliation. The author explains how narratives can be used to generate both.
David Brubaker -- Reconciliation in Rwanda: The Art of the Possible
This article looks at what is and isn't possible to do to achieve reconciliation in Rwanda.
Religion and Reconciliation in Bosnia
This article examines the steps which are needed to attain reconciliation in Bosnia.
Pamela Aall -- Nongovernmental Organizations and Peacemaking
        This article describes the role of NGOs in peacebuilding and reconciliation programs.
David Stuart -- United National Involvement in the Peace Process in El Salvador
This article describes peacebuilding and reconciliation programs in El Salvador. 
Stephen Ryan--Peace-Building and Conflict Transformation
In this chapter, Ryan discusses alternative peacebuilding strategies including forgiveness and reconciliation.  Ryan discusses the benefits--and the problems with the reconciliation approach.

Links to Outside Sources of Information

Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) Information and Resource Center
This center has a number of useful full-text articles on the use of mediation to produce reconciliation between victims and offenders--both violent and nonviolent.
Papers on Restorative Justice
These papers from the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies of Fresno Pacific University take a Christian view of forgiveness and redemption.
NGOs and the Peace Process in Angola--United States Institute of Peace - Special Report
This article reviews the obstacles to reconciliation in Angola and suggests methods that might be used for overcoming those obstacles.  Similar approaches can also be applied in other countries with divided populations.

Balkan Religious Leaders Support Minority Rights- US Institute of Peace

Cooperation Agreements in Bosnia


Links to Related Approaches:

In a sense, all of the solution strategies in this program are related to reconciliation in one way or another, but the integrative strategies are particularly closely related.


Links to Related Problems:

Almost all

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