Służebność państwa wobec człowieka i jego praw jako naczelna idea Konstytucji RP z 2 kwietnia 1997 roku – osiągnięcie czy zadanie? [Subordination of the State to the Individual and to Human Rights as a Central Idea of Poland’s Constitution of 2 April 1997: A Goal or an Achievement?]

Przegląd Sejmowy 15 (4 (81)):65-91 (2007)
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The article deals with relations between the individual and human rights on the one hand, and the State on the other, in the context of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. The author poses the question whether the idea of subordination of the State to the individual is really a central idea of that constitution. He puts forward many arguments against such suggestion. These arguments relate, above all, to the arrangement of the constitution: a chapter concerning human rights is chapter II, while chapter I deals with foundation of the State; the goals of the State are specified in the preamble including the following initial phrase “the existence and future of Poland as our Homeland” and in Article 5 where human rights are as subject of protection by the State is mentioned after independence and integrity of [its] territory; a general concept of human rights protection adopted in the constitution is dominated by the structures typical of law in its objective sense; the way of regulation admissible limitations on human rights differs from international standards; possibility of claiming human rights is constitutionally guaranteed, mostly by constitutional complaint which is above all aimed at correction of legal system, rather than claiming of rights by the individual; Article 1 (“The Republic of Poland shall be the common good of all its citizens”) interpreted as referring to Article 1 paragraph 1 of the April Constitution of 1935, one of the main ideas of which was precedence of the State over the individual. He also analyses the arguments in favour of the recognition of the idea of subordination of the State. Nevertheless, they cannot be accepted as resolving the question of whether it is a central idea of the constitution. These arguments include in particular: the principle of subsidiarity contained in the preamble, even if it has not been appropriately emphasized there; recognition of inherent and inalienable dignity of the person, but it was not until Article 30 that this provision has been contained and it does not determine the relations between the human dignity and rights and the State. The author suggests that the only conclusive way to justify the subordination of the State in relation to the individual as a central idea of the constitution is by means of Article 1. Taking into account, above all, preparatory work, we should reject the interpretation of that article referring to the April (1935) Constitution. Essential interpretative context may be found in preparatory work and social teachings of the Catholic Church, referred to therein. In that case, the common good means the entirety of the conditions of social life which favour the human development. These conditions include above all the respect for human dignity. Such interpretation of Article 1 gives priority to proposals on what the State should be to serve the individual rather than to safeguard obligations of citizens in relation to the State.

Author's Profile

Marek Piechowiak
SWPS University Of Social Sciences And Humanities


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