Last week was my first week as a research student. I’ve decided to keep a research journal to document my progress as I research for and write my thesis on the right to stand for election under international law. However, first I thought I’d write a brief introduction to let everyone know what I’m up to.

Unfortunately, I came down with a cold last weekend (not Covid, just a cold), which significantly hampered my productivity. On the other hand, it’s probably better I was sick now than later, at a more important time.

My research project is on international human rights law, specifically the right to stand for election. I’ll explain in a little more detail soon, but first I’ll fill you in on how I ended up where I am.

Towards the end of my Master of Laws at Macquarie University, I received an email inviting me to apply for the Master of Research at Macquarie. I hadn’t really thought about what I’d be doing next, expecting to take six months off to figure that out and perhaps applying for doctoral positions overseas. Of course, with the pandemic, things were a bit up in the air. However, the Master of Research would prepare me for doctoral research, and a scholarship and stipend were available if you had the grades. I applied, and was accepted for second year entry (skipping the first year entirely). My degree is fully funded and I even get a tax-free living allowance!

The degree mostly consists of a 20,000 word thesis due in October (90%), as well as a literature review due around the start of April (5%) and a brief presentation on my research area in June (also 5%). I’m a bit nervous because I can’t rely on the structure of coursework, but I’m excited to put my research abilities to use on such a large project.

My research proposal concerns discrimination in the right to stand for election. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 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 mentioned in article 2 are: “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Specifically, I will be looking at whether differences in treatment based on being a naturalised citizen (rather than a citizen by birth) or holding more than one nationality are compatible with the Article 25. In the United States, the president must be a “natural born citizen”, excluding anyone who became a naturalised citizen, and in Australia parliamentarians must not have more than one citizenship. There are similar restrictions elsewhere in the world, and these often affect migrants more so than anyone else. Curiously, very little attention has been given to this area, so I’ve got quite an original topic.

Because this post could go on for a lot longer, I’m going to stop here for now. I’ll be publishing a weekly research journal to keep track of my progress, so stay tuned.