The first week of my Master of Research was a bit rocky, as I was recovering from a cold, complete with feverish chills. In summer, of all things.

It’s helpful to state my research topic now, as a reminder to myself on what specifically I’m meant to be focused.

The research topic is nationality-based limitations on the right to stand for election, as protected by article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Although the right is limited to citizens of the relevant state, many states treat naturalised citizens and dual citizens differently, limiting how they may exercise this right. This is what I mean by “nationality-based limitations”.

Article 25 provides:

Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions … to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors

The distinctions in article 2 are: “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

It is important, then, to determine what kinds of nationality-based limitations exist. I am already familiar with the natural born citizen clause in the United States and the prohibition on multiple citizenships in Australia. However, other differences in treatment based on nationality may exist. It is therefore necessary to do a survey of qualifications for public office.

Because article 25 specifically refers to “elections … by universal and equal suffrage”, it makes sense to restrict my research only to those offices that can be reasonably described as directly elected. To prevent the research from getting out of hand, I narrowed it down to looking at: (1) heads of state; (2) heads of government; and (3) national legislators.

I chose to focus on the 193 members of the United Nations, plus non-member permanent observers Palestine and the Holy See (or the Vatican City), as well as Kosovo and Taiwan (or the Republic of China). Using a spreadsheet, I filled in the heads of state, heads of government and national legislatures for each of the 198 countries selected. This was initially done with Wikipedia to speed the process up, and confirmed by reviewing the text of each constitution to confirm accuracy.

Then the method of selection for each officeholder was added. This has allowed me to narrow the scope down to officeholders that can be fairly described as popularly elected (as opposed to indirectly elected by national legislatures or subnational bodies, appointed by the head of state, determined by hereditary, and so on). Following this I did a four-page write up explaining my rationale for making certain decisions.

The next step will be to determine from the popularly elected offices, which have nationality-based limitations. That will be completed by the end of week 2.

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