Dr Myra Williamson

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Senior Lecturer of Law and Convenor of the BA in Law

Qualifications: BA, LLB Hons (First Class) - Otago University; LLM Hons (First Class) Waikato University; PhD Waikato University; Post-Graduate Certificate Tertiary Teaching and Learning (PGCertTTL) Waikato; Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand

About Myra

As the Convenor of the BA in Law, which is the first programme of its kind in New Zealand, I have been developing the curriculum and learning resources as well as being tasked with co-teaching the BA in Law papers. In 2020, I co-taught the new BA in Law Papers called "Law of the Public Sphere" (LEGAL208) and "Law, Policy and Practice" (LEGAL209). In 2021, I will teach 100% of those courses and act as course convenor again. In 2021 I will also convene and teach the new BA in Law paper called "Issues in Justice, Crime and Society" which is LEGAL310. It is the first time that this paper is being delivered so I am responsible for creating the curriculum and then delivering it in A Trimester. Later in 2021, I will be teaching in the co-taught paper LEGAL104 - Legal Method, a compulsory first -year LLB paper.

In 2020, I taught in the second-year LLB co-taught paper "Jurisprudence" (LEGAL203), specifically, I taught the following topics in B Trimester 2020: conceptions of property, the case of rights, critique of rights, economic analysis of law,  and pre-to-post Modernist jurisprudence. In 2020 I also taught in Legal Method (LEGAL104): I delivered the Mooting section of the paper which involved writing the lectures, delivering them, creating the mooting problem and developing the resources around teaching and evaluating the written and oral submissions.

I hold a PGCertTTL from the University of Waikato (conferred in December 2019). That qualification allowed me to explore several issues in global higher education. I have published articles on aspects of best practice in teaching and learning including articles on: assessment practices, designing and using rubrics to improve transparency and accountability in law teaching, academic integrity and contract cheating in higher education.

I have taught law previously at the University of Waikato, in several different roles, and I have taught law in private universities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in the State of Kuwait. I have also taught English and Humanities at a UN-funded private school, the ICARDA International School of Aleppo, before the Syrian revolution. I hold the rank of Associate Professor of Law at the Kuwait International Law School; I was also the first Supervisor of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Office (QAAO) at that law school and I was responsible for, inter alia, creating an international accreditation plan. My interest in quality assurance, accreditation & academic integrity in higher education was first piqued in Saudi Arabia, in relation to playing a role in my (then) employer's application for accreditation with their national accreditor (the NCAAA) and then it was developed through being given exciting leadership opportunities whilst living in Kuwait. It is a field that I continue to find highly important and relevant in international higher education.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

I have supervised research in Kuwait related to: freedom of expression, public employees' right to freedom of expression in the Kuwaiti civil service and French civil service; refugee law; the rights of Syrian Arab women as refugees and internally-displaced persons; international law on the rights of refugees; Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states legal and policy orientations towards refugees.

Research Interests

I have a broad base of research interests. The short version of my research story is that I have researched and published in the following areas:

Public international law: terrorism, war and international law; the use of force in international law;  self-defence by states; Article 51 of the UN Charter; the history of the use of force; piracy; the use of force in Lebanon specifically in 1978 and 1982; the use of force from antiquity through to the present.

COVID-19: the constitutional and legal implications of COVID-19, comparative legal perspectives on different responses to COVID-19; the response to COVID-19 in Gulf Co-operation Countries (GCC) states

Comparative law: the diffusion of legal concepts around the world; comparative legal systems; comparative legal history

Harmful digital communications: the legislation and case law in New Zealand including the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015; comparative legal approaches to cyber-bullying and digital harm; cyber-harm and women

Women and gender justice: women in the judiciary and prosecution services in Kuwait; gender equality in nationality laws; statelessness, citizenship and feminism especially in relation to GCC states' nationality laws; the role of women in peace-making especially in relation to Afghanistan

Intellectual property: geographical indications, especially in relation to the Gulf Co-operation Countries (GCC); the relationship between indigenous knowledge, biodiversity and intellectual property

Here's a slightly longer version of my research story. My LLB Honours thesis, completed at Otago University in 1996 under the supervision of (now) Dr Rex Ahdar, argued that there was an imbalance in insurance law between the duty of disclosure on insureds and the absence of any complementary duty on insurers. I analysed a range of insurance contracts and hypothesized that there ought to be a duty on insurers to disclose a range of things to insureds before they enter into insurance contracts. At the University of Waikato, my LLM Honours thesis was written under the supervision of Professor Margaret Bedggood and examined the impact of comprehensive multilateral economic sanctions on human rights, especially in relation to Iraq. Again at Waikato University, my PhD examined the relationship between terrorism, war and international law. It included a significant historical component where I tracked the development of the use of force from antiquity through to the present. I also examined the use of force in Islam, Judaism and Christianity over the centuries. My overall argument, built on a strong historical foundation and case-by case analysis of the use of force since 1945, was that the UK and the US' use of force against Afghanistan in 2001 was unlawful. Since completing my PhD in 2007 (conferred in 2008) I have continued to present at conferences and publish research on all of the areas touched upon in my doctoral thesis. But I have broadened my research base as my life has taken twists and turns: having lived for extended periods in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, I have developed research interests on a diverse range of issues.

The underlying thread to my research is seeking justice for the disadvantaged, the "sub-altern", the powerless and the "underdog". Looking back and reflecting on what motivated me to study law I can see that I have been on a long journey to seek justice. From the time when I decided to become a lawyer, when I was very young, to my decision as a 16-year-old to leave Fraser High School at the end of 6th form and move from Hamilton to Dunedin when I had just turned 17, through to the completion of my LLB and LLM Honours theses, and then my doctorate thesis and my post-doctoral research I can reflect that the thread that runs through every piece of research is a desire to achieve justice: to stand up for the individual or group who is not getting a fair deal, to highlight their situation and to make recommendations for reform. I am not done yet.

Recent Publications

  • Williamson, M. (2021). Oral Submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee Inquiry into Student Accommodation. In Parliament, Wellington, Education and Select Committee in SC Room 4. Retrieved from

  • Williamson, M. (2021). NZ student accommodation is expensive and under-regulated — here are 10 ways to fix it.

  • Williamson, M. (2021). Submission of Myra Williamson to the Justice Committee regarding the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorized Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill. Parliament, Justice Committee..

  • Williamson, M. (2020). Submission from Myra Williamson to the Education and Workforce Select Committee - Enquiry into Student Accomodation. website: Parliament.

Find more research publications by Myra Williamson


Education Research; Gender; Human Rights; Judicial Politics; Law; Legal Education; Pedagogy; Social Policy; Terrorism; Women and Gender Studies

Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states; Kuwait; Saudi Arabia; Shari'a; Islamic law; relationship between Sharia and civil law; comparative law; common law v civil law; diffusion of legal concepts; pluri-legal issues; use of force; terrorism; international law' harmful digital communications; cyber-bullying; digital harrassment