A Belated but Welcome Theory of Change on Mental Health and
This article critiques the new Theory of Change (ToC) on mental health published
by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) in the last
fortnight of its existence. The ToC offers development actors a framework for
better support of beneficiaries with mental health conditions and psychosocial
disabilities – given disappointingly scant attention by the sector to
date. Yet, 70 per cent of mental disorders occur in low- and middle-income
countries (LMICs), with a 22 per cent prevalence in fragile and
conflict-affected states. Globally, mental ill-health is estimated to affect
almost one billion people. Its intersectionality with poverty and physical
health has been brought into sharp focus by the current COVID-19 pandemic which
has magnified the underlying social and environmental stressors of mental
health. DfID’s ToC provides a conceptual framework for improving mental
health globally, with an overarching vision of the full and equal exercise of
all human rights by those affected by mental health conditions and psychosocial
disability. The framework incorporates a rights-based approach with
user-participation embedded in five critical change pathways to outcomes. The
article analyses the ToC, provides an overview, highlights gaps and comments
upon how DfID might have improved clarity for development actors seeking to
realise its vision.
Middle-Aged Syrian Women’s Contributions to Family Livelihoods
during Protracted Displacement in Jordan
Dina Sidhva, Ann-Christin Zuntz, Ruba al Akash, Ayat Nashwan, and Areej Al-Majali
This article explores the intersections of generational and gender dynamics with
humanitarian governance in Jordan that cause shifts in the division of labour
within displaced families. Drawing on life history interviews and focus group
discussions with seventeen Syrian women in Jordan in spring 2019, we explore the
monetary and non-monetary contributions of middle-aged females to the
livelihoods of refugee households. Older women’s paid and unpaid labour
holds together dispersed families whose fathers have been killed or
incapacitated, or remain in Syria or in the Gulf. In doing so, many women draw
on their pre-war experience of living with – or rather apart from
– migrant husbands. Increased economic and social responsibilities
coincide with a phase in our interviewees’ lifecycle in which they
traditionally acquire greater authority as elders, especially as mothers-in-law.
While power inequalities between older and younger Syrian women are not new,
they have been exacerbated by the loss of resources in displacement. Our
insights offer a counterpoint to humanitarian attempts at increasing
refugees’ ‘self-reliance’ through small-scale
entrepreneurship. For now, culturally appropriate and practically feasible jobs
for middle-aged women are found in their living rooms. Supportive humanitarian
action should allow them to upscale their businesses and address power dynamics
Over the past 25 years, the humanitarian sector has become increasingly dominated
by numbers. This has been reflected in the growth of academic work that explores
this relationship between humanitarianism and quantification. The most recent
contribution to this literature is Joël Glasman’s
Humanitarianism and the Quantification of Humanitarian
Needs. Through his empirical and theoretical contributions, Glasman
draws our attention to the different ways that academics approach this topic.
These four strands structure the literature review: knowledge – the
technical difficulties in quantifying phenomena; governance – how numbers
help humanitarian organisations manage the sector; effects – the impact
that quantification has had on the sector as a whole; meaning – the
importance of rhetoric, discourse, representation and communication when it
comes to understanding the quantitative. As part of the review, the essay also
identifies how academics can better engage with each of the four strands.
Evidence-based advocacy is all the rage in humanitarian action. It is premised on
rational thinking, which posits that factual evidence can limit subjective bias
in humanitarians’ call for change. Data has come to be a cornerstone of
this turn towards reason, aggregating human stories in numbers and percentages,
which when reaching an elusive threshold is expected to persuade decision-makers
to act. This article claims that the prominence of data and facts comes at the
cost of understanding people’s concerns and aspirations, and reveals an
increasingly emotions-scarce and morally depleted humanitarian enterprise.
Examining Médecins Sans Frontières concept of
témoignage, the article argues that the pull between
reason and emotion crystallises a more profound tension between the need for a
professional and technical humanitarianism as opposed to a political and morally
charged one. It concludes that the prism of solidarity can help reinvigorate
humanitarian advocacy helping reconcile reason with emotion, combining practices
of advocacy with those of activism, in turn creating the foundations of a more
NATO’s admission of three classes of a total of twelve former communist states and republics took place in the years 1999, 2004, and 2009. Each of the admitted states had undergone a preparation process known as the Partnership for Peace. The Russian reaction was very negative, as they strengthened their own military in response and also complained that NATO had now moved to their doorstep. At the alliance’s Bucharest Summit in 2008, NATO made the strategically important decision to deny admission to both Georgia and Ukraine. This denial may have strengthened the Russian resolve to invade the first in 2008 and the second in 2014. After the Russian absorption of Crimea, NATO tactics bolstered the position of other vulnerable states but also angered Russian leaders.
Both America and Russia, for different reasons, decided to undertake a policy pivot towards Asia. For President Obama, such a pivot may have represented a needed change from preoccupation with tough issues in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan. President Putin may have looked East in an effort to get away from constant preoccupation with issues related to Crimea and the eastern edge of Europe. The Asian-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) offered a common forum of communication for both wth other Asian states. However, both powers had different historical reasons for pursuing the overture to Asian states. For the United States, a major defense agreement with South Korea was a result of the Korean War of the 1950s, while its long engagement in the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s provided it with additional historical experiences in the region. Russia concerned itself with intensified trade relations and also defined the region to include Central Asian states that had formerly been republics in the Soviet Union. U.S. troops had been a presence in the region for decades, and the multi-state controversy over Chinese actions in the South China Sea also bore in part a defensive component.
Duality of détente in the 1970s and neo-Cold War in the 1980s
James W. Peterson
During the late Cold War there was a serious effort by leaders in both capitals to defuse the tension and conflict that characterized their relationship during the 1950s and 60s. Commitments by both sides to the details of soft power approaches such as negotiating arms agreements such as SALT and the Helsinki Accords eased the climate of hostility somewhat, while the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, with his emphasis on perestroika and other aspects of reform, resulted in considerable retraction of the Soviet military both in size and from various points of involvement such as Afghanistan. However, there was usually either continuing underlying neo-Cold War tension between the two or vacillation between steps forward and backward. The initial Soviet move into Afghanistan combined with emergence of Marxist forces in locations such as Nicaragua kept American leaders in a state of military readiness. Provocative moves such as the build-up of the American nuclear arsenal under President Reagan in the 1980s were combatitive in tone with regard to Soviet leaders. Thus, positive and negative features combined in an uneasy mix at the end of the Cold War.
Theoretical approaches and a path from the Crimea to stability
James W. Peterson
In terms of the ten theoretical approaches presented in Chapter One, the balance of power model carried the most explanatory force in tracing the evolution of the Russian-American relationship. The multipolar model also was strong in depicting the impact on Russian-American relations by other interested states, and it also is useful in studying the impact of that relationship on other nations and their leaders. Further, realism is the best theoretical tool in characterizing motives behind many policy initiatives of the two states. As a result, there were many points at which erosion in the relationship occurred. Their very different reactions to the Syrian civil war was one major example, but so also were continuing military provocations. Russians carried out numerous military exercises in very sensitive border regions, while the West was able to use NATO capabilittes to set up deterrents to Russian ambitions. However, convergence between the two did occur in some ways. Russian-American diplomatic tactics were minimal but meaningful, while President Putin also reached out in unexpected ways to nations such as Iran and Greece. American contacts were those of reassurance to Ukraine and the anxious states in the Baltic region as well as Poland.
Collapse of the Soviet Union and allied victory in the Persian Gulf War
James W. Peterson
The two unrelated events of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the allied victory in the Persian Gulf War made the year 1991 a significant turning point for both Moscow and Washington. A full fifteen nations emerged from the shell of the former Soviet Union, while revolutions in the formerly communist managed states of East Europe led to the emergence of democratic forms in all of them. The resulting Russian state was much smaller and weaker than the Soviet state that it supplanted. In contrast, American power surged forth with the coordinated victory in the Persian Gulf War over Iraq, after its invasion of Kuwait, that restored U.S. military credibility after the quagmire of the War in Southeast Asia. New doctrinal formulations emerged on both sides with the new Russian Constitution of 1993 that paralled the rise of the Yeltsin government, and with the New World Order as articulated for a time by the George H.W. Bush administration. The resulting imbalance of power was a major change from the dynamics of the Cold War but also a prod to the ambitions of Russian leaders like Vladimir Putin. However, balance remained with the mutual negotiations that characterized START diplomacy.