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The Republic of Poland is a unitary state and a constitutional republic with a mixture of presidential and parliamentary models. The system of government is based on the separation of and balance between the legislative, executive and judicial powers. On the basis of the administrative reform of 1998, the country is divided into 16 provinces ("województwa") which are the main administrative units. The provinces are divided into "poviats". The basic unit of local self-government is a commune ("gmina").


Legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, composed of the Sejm (Seym) with 460 seats and the Senate with 100 seats. Each chamber is elected to a four-year term. Elections to the Sejm are universal, equal, direct and proportional and are conducted by secret ballot. Elections to the Senate are universal, direct and are conducted by secret ballot. The Supreme Court adjudicates upon the validity of the elections to the Sejm and the Senate.

The executive authority in Poland is vested in the President of the Republic of Poland and the Council of Ministers.

The President is the supreme representative of the Republic of Poland and the guarantor of the continuity of State authority. The President is elected by the Nation, in universal, equal and direct elections, conducted by secret ballot. The President is elected for a five-year term of office and may be only be re-elected for one more term. The Council of Ministers composed of the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) and ministers manages the government administration. The President of the Republic nominates a Prime Minister who than proposes the composition of a Council of Ministers. Vice-presidents of the Council of Ministers (Deputy Prime Ministers) and presidents of committees specified in statutes can also be appointed within the Council of Ministers.

The administration of justice in the Republic of Poland is implemented by the Supreme Court, the common courts, administrative courts and military courts. The common courts in Poland are district courts ("rejon"), provincial courts ("okręg") and the courts of appeal. They are competent to hear criminal law cases, civil law cases, family and custody law cases, labour law cases and social insurance cases. All court proceedings should have at least two stages. Judges are appointed for an indefinite period by the President of the Republic on the motion of the National Council of the Judiciary and are not removable. The military courts are the military unit courts and the military provincial courts. They have judiciary control within the Polish Army in criminal cases and other cases subscribed to them by relevant statutes.

The Supreme Court is the highest central judicial organ in the Republic of Poland. It exercises supervision over common and military courts regarding judgements and also performs other activities specified in the Constitution and the statutes. The Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal.

The Chief Administrative Court has jurisdiction over cases of administrative justice. This court operates through 10 delegated centres of the same Court. The Chief Administrative Court and other administrative courts exercise, to the extent specified by statute, control over the performance of public/governmental administration and settle jurisdictional disputes between units of local self-government and units of government administration.

The Constitutional Tribunal is an organ of the judiciary competent to decide the conformity of the issued law with the Constitution, disputes concerning competence between the organs of central administration, the conformity of the political parties tasks with the Constitution and to hear constitutional complaints filed by citizens.

Legal system and Constitution. The National Assembly - made up of the two chambers of Parliament, the Sejm and the Senate - approved the final draft of the country's first post-communist Constitution on April 2, 1997. After the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the referendum, and President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed it into law, the new constitution came into effect on October 17, 1997.

The sources of Polish law are divided into two categories: universally binding law and internal law. According to the Constitution, the sources of universally binding Polish law are: the Constitution itself as the supreme law of the land, the statutory law ("ustawa") and ratified international agreements and regulations (“rozporządzenie”). Also local organs, on the basis provided in the statute and within the limits prescribed in the statute, can create the universally binding law (local law). The acts of local law are binding within the territory where the issuing organ exercises its powers.


Poland is:

  • OSCE Participating State since 25 June 1973
  • Member State of the United Nations since 24 October 1945
  • Member State of the Council of Europe since 26 November 1991
  • Member State of the European Union since 1 May 2004

Status of Ratification of the Main International Human Rights Treaties, Conventions and other instruments

27 April 2015
CoE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (2011)
01 August 2008
CoE Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (2007)
01 May 2008
CoE Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and Financing of Terrorism (2008)

Legal Reviews

Urgent Opinion on the Effect of Legislative Acts Introducing a State of Emergency on the Mandate of the Commissioner for Human Rights (in Polish)

Date : 15 November 2021 English [0.62 MB]

Urgent Opinion on the Effect of Legislative Acts Introducing a State of Emergency on the Mandate of the Commissioner for Human Rights (in English)

Date : 15 November 2021 English [0.50 MB]

Urgent Opinion on Draft Amendments to the  Aliens Act,  and the Act on Granting Protection to Aliens on the Territory of the Republic of Poland (in Polish)

Date : 10 September 2021 English [0.74 MB]

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