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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

  • From the very beginning Poland has been involved in the activities leading to the establishment of a system of collective security. Already in September 1941, the Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile, Władysław Sikorski, made a decision on the accession of the Polish Republic to the Atlantic Charter. The Charter, acceded by other members of the anti-Nazi coalition, provided for inter alia ‘renunciation of the method of violence’. Poland was also a signatory to the Declaration of the United Nations signed in January 1942 (the so-called Washington Declaration). This Declaration was the very first to use the term ‘United Nations’ and its provisions greatly contributed to the establishment of the United Nations.

     

    The legal act that officially established the United Nations was the San Francisco Charter of the United Nations, signed on 26 June 1945. Yet, due to the aggressive policy of the Soviet Union against Poland and because of the lack of agreement regarding the Polish representation, Poland neither participated in the work of the preliminary conference that drafted the UN Charter, nor it took part in the founding conference in San Francisco. Stalin called for the invitation of representatives of the Communist Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland, not agreeing to the participation of representatives of legitimate (recognized by Western countries) Polish government in exile.

     

    As a result, during the founding conference, the chair for the representative of the Republic of Poland remained empty. In the absence of Polish representative, the decision was made to leave an empty space for the signature of the representative of Poland under the text of the Charter of the United Nations. In this way, despite the absence of the delegate, Poland became the founding member of the United Nations. The missing signature was placed in October 1945 by a representative of the communist government.

     

    In the years 1945-1989, Poland remained in the Soviet sphere of influence and as a result could not conduct its own, independent foreign policy. Thus, it could not be fully integrated in the work of the United Nations, which was often the official forum of the East-West conflict.

     

    Despite these limitations, until the end of the Cold War, Poland sought to actively work in the areas of international law, decolonization, disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as in observation and peacekeeping missions. It is worth mentioning (previously consulted with USSR) the idea of a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe, presented in 1957 by Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki. The concept called ‘Rapacki’s Plan’ had not been implemented in the end, yet, it was an important step towards finding solutions for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

     

    The sphere of development and codification of international law by the United Nations has always been a leading concern for Poland. The most outstanding professionals were assigned to work for the UN. They actively got involved in the work of the organization, in particular in the activities of the International Law Commission. In the years 1946-1993, Poland continuously had its representative in the International Court of Justice (Bohdan Winiarski and Manfred Lachs). And it was the only country along with the major powers to held that position.

     

    An important area of active involvement of Poland in the UN work was our presence in the peacekeeping operations. Polish Armed Forces participated inter alia in international peacekeeping missions since 1953 (NNSC – Korean Peninsula), and in the operations of the United Nations since 1973 (UNEP II - Egypt), while the Polish police was present in missions since 1992 (UNPROFOR - former Yugoslavia). In the UN, Poland stresses especially the principles of the functioning of peacekeeping missions, as well as post-conflict reconstruction in the countries in which operations took place.

     

    Poland has always underlined great importance of the confidence-building measures, disarmament and arms control. In the 90s, the Republic of Poland was a member of the group of countries that have contributed to the arrangements of important disarmament agreements: the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (1993), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996) and the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines (1997). Particularly important was the Polish engagement in the containment of chemical weapons (already since 1969.) and in the implementation of the Convention. Poland, one of the 66 members of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, actively participated in the negotiations held at its forum.

     

    After gaining back its sovereignty in 1989, Poland joined the discussion on the reform of the United Nations system. The basic premises of Polish involvement are the pursuit of the democratization of international relations, as well as the enhancement of the effectiveness of human rights protection. On the initiative of Poland, United Nations General Assembly adopted in 1990 the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In subsequent years, Poland advocated further  for the importance of the issue of the promotion of human rights and the establishment of the Human Rights Council. With over 50 years of experience in the work of the UN, Republic of Poland could see the interdependence between security, human rights and sustainable development, which was reflected in the records of the Outcome Document of the UN Summit in 2005.

     

    As far as the economic issues are concerned, the activity of Poland at the United Nations arena focuses on economic cooperation, as well as on development and environmental protection in the context of globalization. In recent years, Poland has actively joined the efforts to combat the adverse effects of climate change. We organized two climate summits, one in 2008 in Poznan and another one in 2013 in Warsaw. (Conference of Parties - COP).

     

    Poland was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 1946-47, 1960, 1970-1971, 1982-1983, 1996-1997.

     

    From the Polish perspective, being actively involved in solving international problems and as a member of the European Union, which promotes the effective multilateralism, the UN and the enhancement of its role remains an important issue for us.

     

    Tags: history

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