This Article examines the extent of human rights protection under the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of April 2, 1997 ("new Polish Constitution" or "Constitution"), adopted on April 2, 1997, by the Polish National Assembly and approved by the Polish people in a referendum on May 25, 1997. The Constitution, a lengthy document composed of 243 articles, came into force on October 17, 1997, and is one of the last constitutions to be adopted in Central and Eastern Europe since the start of the political and socio-economic transformations of the post-communist era. This Article emphasizes the importance of the new Polish Constitution in light of the long tradition of constitutionalism in Poland. Part I surveys some of the earlier constitutional texts, with particular focus on the provisions concerning the protection of human rights. After briefly discussing the difficulties encountered in drafting the new Polish Constitution, Part II analyzes the protection of rights and freedoms in the Constitution in light of the most recent developments. This part focuses on the general principles underlying rights and freedoms in the Constitution, certain prominent civil and political rights of particular importance in their specific Polish context, the debate surrounding the constitutionalization of economic and social rights, the protection of so-called "third-generation rights" such as the right to a clean and healthy environment, and limitations on rights and freedoms. One section is also devoted to the mechanisms adopted for the implementation and enforcement of these rights. This Article concludes that the system of protecting human rights in the new Polish Constitution is innovative and far-reaching and can serve as a useful model for developments elsewhere.
The Protection of Human Rights in the New Polish Constitution,
22 Fordham Int'l L.J. 236
Available at: http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/ilj/vol22/iss2/2