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The President of the Republic of Poland as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland

It should be stressed that pursuant to Art. 11 clause 1 of the Act of 21 June 2002 on the state of emergency, the President of the Republic of Poland, during such state, at the request of the Prime Minister, may elect to use contingents and detachments of the Polish Armed Forces to restore normal law and order and operation of the State if the forces and means used thus far have been exhausted.

The competences of the President of the Republic of Poland in the security and defence of the State are also defined in the Act on the universal obligation to defend the Republic of Poland. They concern mainly exercising supervision over the Armed Forces:


The President of the Republic of Poland, as the Commander-In-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces shall, at the request of the Minister of National Defence, determine the key directions of the development of the Armed Forces and their preparation to defend the State (Art. 5 clause 1), as well as may take part in the briefing of the executives of the Ministry of National Defence and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland (Art. 5 clause 2).

Furthermore, the President shall, on the application of the Council of Ministers or the Prime Minister, decide about the deployment of the Armed Forces outside the territory of Poland. The above shall take place in the event of use of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland outside the state borders in order to take part in:

 

  • military conflict or to reinforce the forces of the state or of the allied countries;
  • peace mission;
  • actions aiming at preventing the acts of terror or the results thereof.

War period and the resulting specific nature of management of the State and its defence require the acceptance of the rule of unilateral command and bearing one-person responsibility. The constitutional provisions mentioned before pertaining to the President’s powers in this respect, including acting as the supreme commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, taking decision on the common mobilisation and use of the armed forces to the Republic of Poland, appointing for the time of war the Commander-In-Chief of the polish Armed Forces, issuing decrees during the period of martial law, predispose the President to manage the State defence during the period of any threat to the State security and during periods of war. However, in this case the component of cooperation between two centres of the executive authority is maintained. The above is regulated by Art. 10 of the Act referred to above on the martial law, which reads as follows:


“Where it is necessary to defend the State during the martial law period, the defence shall be managed by the President of the Republic of Poland in collaboration with the Council of Ministers”.

The President of the Republic of Poland, during the martial law period, shall in particular:

  • elect, at the request of the Council of Ministers, to assign the public authorities the specific positions;
  • decide, at the request of the Council of Ministers, about the state of military readiness of the Republic of Poland, hereinafter referred to as the Armed Forces;
  • determine, at the request of the Council of Ministers, the responsibilities of the Armed Forces during the period of martial law;
  • may appoint, on the application of the Prime Minister, the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces;
  • approve, at the request of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, the operational plans of the use of the Armed Forces;

designate, at the request of the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, the specific areas of the Republic of Poland as the areas of direct warfare”.

While analysing the legal instruments that are in the possession of the President, one cannot overlook the powers related to the assurance of State’s internal security. Where the use of the armed contingents and squads of police turns out to be insufficient, the President may decide, at the request of the Prime Minister, to use the contingents and detachments of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland to assist the Police.

In view of the wide competences granted to the president, particularly those pertaining to the exercising the position of the guardian of the security and sovereignty of the State as well as the inviolability and integrity of its territory, the Constitution sets up the National Security Council as the counselling authority of the President in respect of the internal and external security of the State.

In order to ensure the forum of collaboration in respect of the executive power, the Constitution establishes one more authority in the shape of the Cabinet Council which, however, does not hold any such executive competences.

Pursuant to the Act on the universal obligation to defend the State, the President of the Republic of Poland carries out his responsibilities within the scope of security and defence of the state with assistance from the National Security Council. In the absence of the proper strategic centre at the State level, the body is also responsible for monitoring the undertakings that have an impact on the security and defence of the State.

The President, holding the competences as described above, forms the key link in the security system of our country creating the integrated structure which incorporates all forces and measures of the State provided for the implementation of the security tasks.

 

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