Kelly Atkinson, Ph.D.

Ohio State University, Columbus

Country: United States (Hawaii)

About Me:

Kelly E. Atkinson is a Major in the United States Air Force.  She earned her PhD in Political Science from the Ohio State University in 2017.  Her research focuses on child recruitment from environments of displacement, and she explores the intervening role of development policy in disrupting cycles of recruitment.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology (University of Virginia), a Master of Arts in Strategic Intelligence Studies (American Military University), and a Master of Arts in Political Science (Ohio State University).  In 2018 she published the article “Policy and Possibilities of Humanitarian Development: Displaced Women and Peace-building Features of the UNHCR” in Refugee Survey Quarterly.

Research Interests


Conflict Processes & War

Gender and Politics

Middle East & North African Politics



United Nations


Gender And Military


Journal Articles:

(2019) Refugees and Recruitment: Understanding Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict With Novel Data, Journal of Peacebuilding and Development

What makes child recruitment into armed conflict more likely? Violations against children in armed conflict pose a significant challenge to conflict resolution, long-term peacebuilding efforts, and international stability, yet little data are available on a global scale to understand the scope and causes of child recruitment into conflict. This article makes two contributions towards closing this analytical gap. First, utilising annual reports of the United Nations Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, this article codes child recruitment and other grave violations against children for 28 countries from 2006 to 2015 producing a new data set. Second, using this data set, this article examines the broad role of displacement in shaping child recruitment into armed conflict. Ultimately, this article finds that displacement within a country is positively and statistically significantly correlated with violations against children in armed conflict to include child recruitment and introduces policy recommendations for engaging this finding.

(2018) Policy and Possibilities of Humanitarian Development: Displaced Women and Peace-building Features of the UNHCR, Refugee Survey Quarterly

Displaced environments are sites of global humanitarian development initiatives that often address how to disrupt cycles of conflict. What ongoing policy initiatives within displaced settings offer opportunities to bolster these humanitarian development initiatives to mitigate conflict dynamics and their impact on displaced populations? This article addresses this question by exploring the role of displaced women in peace-building processes. The focus on women and peace-building has expanded in the 20 years since the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, yet the emphasis on displaced women as critical participants in peace-building efforts remains nascent in humanitarian development policy. This proves especially true within the policies of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Using archival research and interviews with elite professionals, this article evaluates the UNHCR institutional capabilities, limitations, and historic trajectory of its gender policy in order to reveal possibilities for peace-building displaced women within current development policy. Recognising and enabling the peace-building agency of empowered women will posture the UNHCR to implement effective humanitarian development policies to address contemporary global displacement crises, thus strengthening the ongoing United Nations Women, Peace and Security agenda while simultaneously harnessing the peace-building potential of displaced women.