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Country Reports
Poland, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Poland voluntarily submitted an Article 7 report on 5 March 2003, in which it declared a stockpile of more than one million antipersonnel mines. Poland’s First Lady opened an exhibition on landmines by expressing her hope that Poland would ratify the Mine Ban Treaty. In 2002, a total of 2,626 mines and 42,006 items of UXO were found and destroyed in Poland.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Poland signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 with pre-conditions for ratification. These were restated in 2002 and 2003: all permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as all countries neighboring Poland should first join the treaty, and the Polish Armed Forces should be supplied with alternative weapons.[1] In January 2003, Poland stated that “none of these conditions has been fulfilled [and] we are still not completely prepared to withdraw from possessing the anti-personnel mines. According to our Military Forces they are one of the most important components of our defense system.”[2]

Poland participated in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, where it stated its intent to voluntarily submit a Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report, because it viewed Article 7 as “very essential to the operation of the Convention.”[3] On 5 March 2003, Poland submitted the report, which covers the period up to 31 December 2002. Notably, it revealed a stockpile of just over one million antipersonnel mines. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Poland was “convinced that transparency in armaments plays an essential role in the confidence, cooperation and security building process,” and that Poland “was willing to demonstrate its support for the ‘Ottawa process’ ideal.”[4]

In November 2002, Poland voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Poland attended the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003.

As of mid-2003, Poland had not joined Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). On 28 March 2003, the Parliament approved the ratification law.[5] A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told Landmine Monitor that the President signed the ratification law in July 2003, and the instrument of ratification would be deposited shortly.[6]

Poland attended the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II of the CCW as an observer in December 2002. Poland reported to delegates that although 20 million mines and explosive remnants were destroyed between 1946 and 1956, mines and explosive remnants of war were still being today found in significant quantities.[7]

In November 2002, Poland voluntarily submitted an annual report in accordance with Article 13 of Amended Protocol II.[8] This states that information on the Protocol is already included in military training, and will be implemented in field manuals after ratification.

NGO Activities

On 13 September 2002, the ICBL and the Polish Red Cross launched Landmine Monitor Report 2002 during the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw. Release events included a press conference, a briefing attended by representatives of OSCE member states and Polish government officials, and an ICBL intervention during the general forum of the conference.

On 1 March 2003, the four-year anniversary of when the Mine Ban Treaty took effect, the Polish Red Cross, in cooperation with the Canadian Embassy, organized an exhibition of landmine photographs by John Rodsted, ICRC panels on the Mine Ban Treaty, and information provided by the Engineering Corps on Poland’s experience with landmines and its contribution to humanitarian demining. Poland’s First Lady, Jolanta Kwasniewska opened the exhibition and expressed her hope that Poland would soon ratify the Mine Ban Treaty. Over 200 people attended the opening event and the exhibition attracted good media coverage.[9] Around 1,000 people viewed the exhibition, which was displayed at Warsaw University throughout March 2003. The university’s student association organized a series of presentations on landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty.[10]

In March 2003, the Polish Section of Amnesty International, issued an appeal against the use of indiscriminate weapons, including antipersonnel mines, in Iraq.[11]

Production, Transfer and Use

Poland has stated that it is already complying with the Mine Ban Treaty prohibitions on production and transfer of antipersonnel mines.[12] A law banning all transfers of antipersonnel mines was adopted in September 2002.[13] This and a 7 April 1998 Cabinet decree banning antipersonnel mine export were listed under National Implementations Measures in Poland’s Article 7 report. The Ministry of Defense confirmed that in 2002 the Armed Forces did not import or take possession of any new antipersonnel mines.[14]

In its January 2003 response to the annual OSCE questionnaire, Poland stated that it “actively supports the efforts on creation of legally-binding instrument banning the transfers of anti-personnel landmines within the Conference on Disarmament.”[15] The CD has not been able to agree on a negotiating mandate since 1997.

Regarding the possibility of the transit through Poland of foreign antipersonnel mines, the Ministry of Defense stated that the decision to allow such transit would be “of a political character and in regard to the NATO allies probably regulations adopted in frame of the ‘SOFA’ [Status of Forces] agreement will be relevant.”[16]

The Ministry of Defense confirmed that in 2002 no antipersonnel mines were used in joint military operations with non-States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, and, as in 2001, antipersonnel mines were used exclusively for training demining troops.[17]

Alternatives to Landmines

In 2002, at the request of the Department of Armaments Policy of the Ministry of Defense, the Military Institute of Technical Engineering in Wroclaw conducted research on alternatives to antipersonnel mines. The aim was to identify possibilities for further research, based on the capacities of national study and research centers. A number of non-lethal alternatives were identified, among them: an acoustic-light area-denial system, a directional temporary incapacitating device (directional rubber ball firing), a chemical agent device, and an electro-shock device. Included in this study was the possible development of new detection and demining techniques. The cost of the study was PLN 160,000 (approximately $40,000).[18]

An inter-ministerial working group is responsible for Poland’s search for alternatives to antipersonnel mines and the timetable for treaty ratification. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that in 2002 the group’s work was dominated by issues related to proposals developing in the CCW.[19] The Ministry of Defense told Landmine Monitor that due to lack of developments there has been no need to call for new meetings, and the group has been waiting to be convened.[20]

Consultations on research into alternatives to antipersonnel mines continued in 2002, mainly with Canada, the United Kingdom, and NATO. According to the Ministry of Defense, information in this field is insufficient thus far, and gives no clear indication whether Poland should focus on developing its own alternatives or purchase them. Decisions may be taken in this regard during deliberations “at the highest level” at the Ministry of Defense, intended to take place in mid-2003.[21]


In its Article 7 report, Poland details a stockpile of 1,055,971 antipersonnel mines of four types.

Poland’s Antipersonnel Mine Stockpile[22]

Ceased in 1957
POMZ-2 (2M)

Bounding Fragmentation

Directional fragmentation
Ceased in 1988


The Ministry of Defense officials subsequently told Landmine Monitor that production of POMZ-2 (2M) ceased in the 1960s, and that the PSM-1 had been imported from Bulgaria, most recently in the 1980s. They said that Poland no longer possesses the MOP-2, a signaling mine mentioned in Landmine Monitor Report 2002, claiming that stocks of the mine were used up in 2002 in training.[23]

In its Amended Protocol II Article 13 report, Poland declared, “All antipersonnel mines remaining within the Polish Armed Forces equipment are detectable and, according to the provisions of Amended Protocol II, their modernization is not needed.”[24]

The Article 7 report also includes information on the technical characteristics of each type of mine. The Ministry of Defense noted that “information on the location of the stockpiled antipersonnel mines is of secret character because mines are still an important element of the national defensive system.”[25]

In February 2002, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that antipersonnel mine stockpile destruction is not a problem in financial terms.[26] In March 2003, Ministry of Defense officials said that there were no discussions underway on the destruction methods or timetable for destruction.[27]

In 2001, Poland contributed US$10,000 to the NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund for the destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines in the Ukraine, and the same amount for the Trust Fund project in Moldova.

Landmine/UXO Problem and Clearance

Poland is still finding unexploded ordnance (UXO) and landmines dating from World War II and the Soviet occupation, especially at the drainage basins of the Vistula and Odra rivers, and in forested areas in the southeast of the country. Mines and UXO are discovered most often in urbanized areas during the construction of buildings.[28]

The Ministry of Defense states, “There are no mined areas nor areas suspected of mine contamination on the territory of Poland.”[29] The Article 7 report states “not applicable” on Form C, regarding location of mined areas. The Amended Protocol II Article 13 report makes a similar statement and explains: “Therefore there is no need for the regular mine clearance programs. However...every year the separate pieces of explosive remnants of World War II are found, Polish Armed Forces have in their disposal 37 ground force engineers patrols and two naval engineer groups operating all over the country in cases of emergencies.” At present they are responsible for clearance of former military facilities being handed over to the local civilian administration.[30]

According to the Ministry of Defense, the quantity of World War II mines and UXO found depends largely on new infrastructure developments, and the Ministry expects that this will increase due to the planned construction of motorway systems across the country.[31]

In 2002, a total of 2,626 mines and 42,006 items of UXO were detected and destroyed (compared with 3,842 mines and 45,332, UXO in 2001). Included in the total for 2002 were 80 mines and 6,284 UXO from former military areas.[32]

Mine/UXO clearance has been conducted at three former military areas: Okonek, Lambinowice, and Czerwony Bor, involving 520 deminers and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialists. A total of 3,803 hectares were cleared during these planned operations in 2002. Another 280 specialist personnel were involved in 9,177 emergency EOD responses to mines and UXO found during farming and construction work.[33]

In 2002, the cost of mine clearance and EOD was PLN28.5 million ($7,125,000), out of which PLN3.5 million ($875,000) was the cost of clearance of the former military bases.[34]

The clearance operations at Czerwony Bor (1,448 hectares) and Lambinowice are planned for completion by the end of 2003. Clearance at Okonek (1,500 hectares) will continue, although the exact duration will depend on financial resources, which are being reduced.[35]

Landmine/UXO warnings using radio and television media increased after a fatal UXO incident occurred in March 2003.[36] The Engineering Corps has produced mine/UXO awareness leaflets, which are distributed at public events.

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

There is no comprehensive record of mine and UXO casualties in Poland. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, and the Interior were unable to provide data.[37]

According to police sources, in 2002, three civilians were killed and 11 injured as a result of handling “findings probably from the World War II.” None of the casualties were deminers or EOD specialists.[38] In 2001, according to police sources, seven civilians were killed as a result of handling UXO. However, according to the Engineer Corps, in 2001, there were about 40 mine/UXO incidents resulting in injuries and most of these involved children.[39]

On 9 March 2003, a 14-year-old boy was killed and four others injured when they were reportedly handling UXO.[40]

In 2002, two Polish soldiers were injured in landmine incidents at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. On 31 May, the commander of a Polish demining platoon was injured while clearing mines.[41] On 26 June, a Polish captain was injured in a landmine incident.[42] On 9 January 2003, another Polish soldier was injured during a mine clearance operation at the airbase.[43]

On 4 March 2003, two Polish peacekeepers were killed and two others (a Polish peacekeeper and an interpreter) were injured in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, when their car drove over an antivehicle mine.[44]

Poland has stated that, “Since Poland is not a mine-affected country there is no specific rehabilitation program for mine victims.... [S]uch cases appear a few times within a year.” Survivors are entitled to “social health care” and have “a possibility of availing from rehabilitation or sanatorium care.”[45] Regardless of insurance, mine/UXO casualties are treated as an emergency and receive first aid and surgery if needed. If the survivors are insured, they are entitled to surgery, prostheses, and rehabilitation free-of-charge. If not insured, survivors must cover the costs.

Mine Action Assistance

In January 2003, Poland reported contributing more than 700 Polish deminers to peacekeeping operations over the last five years.[46] In December 2002, it reported that a total of 150 soldiers are involved in various peacekeeping missions, including in the Golan Heights and in Lebanon. Three Polish demining patrols are engaged in Bosnia and Herzegovina and 32 deminers are working in Afghanistan.[47] In 2003, Poland decided to send 150 deminers to Iraq.

[1] Poland Response to Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Questionnaire, 25 January 2003. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 567.
[2] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 25 January 2003, p. 2.
[3] Statement by Poland to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 18 September 2002.
[4] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Director, Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[5] Telephone interview with Colonel Marek Zadrozny, Department of International Co-operation, Ministry of Defense, 17 June 2003.
[6] Telephone interview with Irena Juszczyk, Expert, Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 July 2003.
[7] Statement of Ambassador Krzysztof Jakubowski, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the UN in Geneva, 12 December 2002.
[8] The report is dated 11 November 2002 and it was distributed at the December 2002 conference, but the date it was received by the CCW is listed as 27 January 2003. CCW/AP.II/CONF.4/NAR.42.
[9] TV 1, 28 February 2003; TV 3, 1 March 2003; “Przeciw minom” (Against mines), Gazeta Wyborcza–Stoleczna (daily newspapaer), 1 March 2003; “Wystawa w rocznice Traktatu Ottawskiego: Smiertelna spuscizna” (Exhibition on the Ottawa Treaty’s anniversary: Deadly Legacy), Trybuna (daily newspaper), 3 March 2003; “Miny–najstraszniejsza bron” (Mines–the most horrible weapon”), Zycie Warszawy (daily newspaper), 3 March 2003; “Niedrogi zabojca” (Inexpensive Killer), Rzeczpospolita (daily newpaper), 7 March 2003.
[10] Report on the exhibition “Landmines – the deadly legacy: Over 5 years after adoption of the Ottawa Treaty” by Katarzyna Derlicka, International Cooperation Officer, Polish Red Cross, 31 March 2003.
[11] Amnesty International – Poland website, www.amnesty.org.pl.
[12] Statement by Poland to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 18 September 2002.
[13] “Ordinance of the Council of Ministers of August 20, 2002 concerning the imposition of prohibition and restriction on transfer of goods of strategic importance for the state security,” Journal of Laws, 6 September 2002. Translation by Landmine Monitor researcher.
[14] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[15] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 25 January 2003, p. 2.
[16] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid. Exchange rate: US$1 = PLN4.
[19] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[20] Interview with Col. Marek Zadrozny and Lt. Col. Waldemar Ratajczak, Department of International Cooperation, Col. Lech Zajda, Command of Military Engineering, General Staff, and Maj. Artur Talik, Command of Engineering Corps of the Land Forces, Ministry of National Defense, Warsaw, 5 March 2003.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Article 7 Report, Forms B and H, 5 March 2003.
[23] Interview with Col. Lech Zajda, Command of Military Engineering, and Maj. Artur Talik, Command of Engineering Corps of the Land Forces, General Staff, Ministry of Defense, Warsaw, 20 March 2003.
[24] Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form C, 11 December 2002.
[25] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[26] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 570.
[27] Interview with Col. Zadrozny, Lt-Col Ratajczak, Col. Zajda, and Maj. Talik, Ministry of National Defense, Warsaw, 5 March 2003.
[28] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 571-572.
[29] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[30] Article 7 Report, Form C, 5 March 2003; Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form B, 11 December 2002.
[31] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid; letter from Col. Janusz Lalka, Head of the Military Engineering, General Staff, and Col. Lech Zajda, Expert, Military Engineering, General Staff, 28 April 2003.
[36] Letter from Col. Janusz Lalka and Col. Lech Zajda, General Staff, 28 April 2003.
[37] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 572.
[38] Letter from Adam Kobieracaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[39] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 572.
[40] “Wybuch niewypalu zabil chlopca. Rzucili pociskiem o asfalt” (UXO killed a boy. They threw the munition against the pavement.), Gazeta Wyborcza, 10 March 2003; TV 1 news, 9 March 2003.
[41] Letter from Adam Kobieracki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 March 2003.
[42] “Do domu z Afganistanu” (Back Home from Afghanistan), Gazeta Wyborcza, 27 June 2002.
[43] Kathleen T. Rhem, “American Soldier Loses Foot in Mine Explosion,” American Forces Press Service, 10 January 2003.
[44] “Macedonia. Dwoch Polskich zolnierzy zginelo” (Macedonia. Two Polish Soldiers killed), Gazeta Wyborcza, 5 March 2003; “Tragedia w Macedoni. Skąd ta mina?” (Tragedy in Macedonia. Where was the mine from?), Gazeta Wyborcza, 6 March 2003.
[45] Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form B, 11 December 2002.
[46] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 25 January 2003, p. 3.
[47] Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form E, 11 December 2002.