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Country Reports
Download PDF of country response to Human Rights Watch letter.


The Republic of Poland has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In a September 2008 letter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote, “Although we fully share the humanitarian objectives of the Oslo Process…we have decided at present to concentrate all our efforts and expertise on the forum of CCW [Convention on Conventional Weapons].”[1] Poland produces and stockpiles cluster munitions.

Poland is party to the CCW, but has yet to ratify Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. In April 2007 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it had initiated preparations for ratification of this protocol.[2]

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Poland was one of three states present at the February 2007 Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions that did not endorse the Oslo Declaration committing states to conclude a cluster munition treaty in 2008. Poland also attended Oslo Process international treaty preparatory meetings in Lima and Vienna, but did not attend the Wellington conference in February 2008. It attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 as an observer. At the Lima meeting, Poland noted that while the Oslo Process should be a source of inspiration, it should find commonality with the CCW in order to achieve substantial progress there.[3] Poland did not deliver statements in the other Oslo Process meetings.

In September 2008, Poland stated that when the CCW finished its work, there would be two humanitarian legal regimes, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and a CCW protocol, and that those countries that have adopted a higher standard on cluster munitions should have no problem with others adopting a lesser one. For those adopting the lesser standard, it should be seen as a time of transition.[4]

During a November 2008 meeting with NGOs, an official from the Ministry of National Defense said that Poland would not sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions because Poland has very modern cluster munitions with a 98% reliability rate. He said Poland would use cluster munitions for defensive purposes only, and does not intend to use them outside its own territory.[5]

In a February 2009 discussion at a CCW meeting, Poland elaborated on its position, stating, “In our opinion it would be counterproductive to insist on establishing any ban covering the whole category of cluster munitions or any immediate prohibitions without a possibility for states to ask for a transitional period.” Poland said that it was prepared to accept restrictions only for certain types of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians and also stressed that it does not share the view that a possible CCW agreement on cluster munitions would be contradictory to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[6]

In a letter to Human Rights Watch dated 10 March 2009, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Poland attaches the utmost importance to the humanitarian aspect of the use of cluster munitions and supports measures designed to reduce civilian losses and suffering…. However, due to legitimate security needs, we were not in the position to sign the Convention on 3 December 2008.”[7] Furthermore, the “Polish Armed Forces recognize that cluster munitions, which meet high reliability criteria, are legitimate weapons of significant military value, which are necessary to ensure [the] security of Poland.”


According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The Polish Armed Forces have never used cluster munitions in combat.”[8] However, Polish forces deployed in Afghanistan may have possessed the weapon. According to a press account, the chief executive of a Polish company that produces cluster munitions said, “Polish troops at Nangar Khel in Afghanistan had mortar missiles with cluster munitions.”[9]


Poland acknowledges possessing both air-dropped and surface-launched cluster munitions.[10] Polish Land Forces are equipped with the following types:

  • 122mm unguided rocket projectile M-21FK “FENIKS-Z,” containing 42 GKO submunitions. These munitions are deployed by BM-21/21M or RM 70/85 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
  • 122mm unguided artillery shell “HESYT-1,” containing 20 GKO submunitions. These munitions are deployed by the self-propelled howitzer HS 2S1 “GOŹDZIK.”
  • 98mm unguided mortar shell “RAD-2,” containing 12 GKO submunitions and deployed by M-98 mortar.

The Polish Air Force possesses the following types of cluster munitions:

  • ZK-300 cluster bomb, containing 315 PLBOk fragmentation bomblets; both the carrier and bomblets were designed and produced in Poland.
  • BKF expendable unit loader with anti-tank, incendiary and fragmentation bomblets, imported from the former Soviet Union.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The GKO submunitions are typical DPICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions) that combine anti-personnel fragmentation feature with an anti-armour shaped charge. It should be stressed that the GKO – the entirely Polish design – is relatively new and modern. Both the GKO submunitions and their carriers, which the Polish Armed Forces are equipped with, have been produced in Poland since 2001. The GKO incorporate a back-up self-destruction mechanism, which destroys the unexploded on impact submunitions after a set delay of about 20 seconds. The simple and reliable fuse sequence with two independent detonators ensures negligible failure rate of the submunitions in all environmental conditions. High reliability of the GKO has been confirmed during acceptance trials and field trials in different conditions.”[11]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stated that the air-dropped “obsolete cluster munitions entered into service in 1980s during the Warsaw Pact Era. These weapons are carried by Su-22 aircrafts. It should be stressed that the current military Air Forces doctrine does not anticipate any use of air-delivered cluster munitions in military operations. Therefore, it is almost certain that those weapons will be left untouched in their storage sites until their life span expires. The F-16 multirole fighters, which the Polish Air Forces have recently acquired, are not equipped with cluster munitions.”[12]

However, contradictory information exists that indicates cluster munitions were included in the F-16 sale. In 2001, the United States Defense Cooperation Agency notified the US Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Poland including 384 CBU-87 combined effects cluster bombs.[13] On 22 July 2002 another notification indicated that the US would supply 140 CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapons with Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers in an additional F-16 sale.[14]

In addition, the Jane’s Information Group lists Poland as possessing KMG-U dispensers, RBK-250, RBK-275, and RBK-500 cluster bombs.[15]

Production and Transfer

Several Polish companies have produced cluster munitions. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the types of cluster munitions it lists as being in the Polish arsenal “are produced by the Polish companies exclusively for the needs of the Polish Armed Forces.”[16] The ministry states that Poland “has not exported any cluster munitions in recent years.”[17] Details on past exports are not available.

Regarding future procurement of cluster munitions, Poland stated in 2005, “The Ministry of Defense requires during acceptance tests less than 2.5% failure rate for the purchased submunitions.”[18]

The Polish company Dezamet has produced the ZK-300 Kisajno cluster bomb and also lists producing another type of cluster bomb called the LBKas-250, which contains 120 LBok-1 bomblets.[19] The Kraśnik defense plant has produced cluster munitions for 98mm mortars, 122mm artillery, and 152mm artillery.[20] The Polish company Tlocznia Metali Pressta Spolka Akcynjna has manufactured 122mm rockets.[21]

[1] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Director, Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 September 2008

[2] ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2008: (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, 2008), p. 790.

[3] Statement of Poland, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 May 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[4] Statement of Poland, Fourth 2008 Session of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 2 September 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[5] ICBL and CMC meeting with representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense, Warsaw, 14 November 2008. The remarks were made by Captain Jerzy Niemec, Deputy Director, Department of International Security Policy, Ministry of National Defense. Email from Kasia Derlicka, Advocacy and Campaining Officer, ICBL, 9 April 2009.

[6] Statement of Poland, First 2009 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 16 February 2009.

[7] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2009.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Marcin Górka, “Poland Sees Nothing Wrong in Cluster Bombs,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 9 September 2008, wyborcza.pl.

[10] All information on current stockpiles is from a letter from Adam Kobieracki, 10 March 2009.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Poland - Sale of F-16 Fighters and Support Equipment,” Transmittal No. 01-18, 8 June 2001.

[14] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, “Poland – Sale of F-16 Fighter Aircraft,” News release, Transmittal No. 02-49, 22 July 2002. US CBU-97 Sensor Fuzed Weapons are cluster bombs that are prohibited under the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

[15] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 844.

[16] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2009.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Communication from the Polish Ministry of Defense, to Pax Christi Netherlands, 14 February 2005. The information was provided to Pax Christi Netherlands with the proviso that the “content of the paper does not necessarily reflect the official position of Poland.”

[19] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 391; and Dezamet, “Air Armament,” undated, www.dezamet.com.pl.

[20] Dezamet, “Cargo Ammunition,” www.dezamet.com.pl; and Marcin Górka, “Poland Sees Nothing Wrong in Cluster Bombs,” Gazeta Wyborcza, 9 September 2008, wyborcza.pl.

[21] Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), p. 626.