Last Updated: 12 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Kingdom of Bahrain has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Bahrain last made a statement on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in January 2011, when a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that Bahrain’s position on joining both the ban convention and the Mine Ban Treaty was “being studied by different ministries, who are considering the regional and international situation and positions of other states in the region.”[1]

In 2009, a government minister expressed support for the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions “so as to avoid further civilian casualties from these weapons” and said that authorities in Bahrain were studying the possibility of joining it.[2]

During the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions in February 2008, Bahrain called upon all states “to stop using such weapons, and should consider such use as a crime against humanity” and said it “strongly supports all efforts to eliminate all kinds of cluster munitions, and to prohibit their use, transfer, trade and stockpiling.”[3]

Bahrain participated in a couple of meetings of the Oslo Process that created the convention and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention in Dublin in May 2008, but did not attend the signing conference in Oslo in December 2008.[4] It has not participated in any regional or international meetings on cluster munitions held since 2008.

Bahrain has voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the Syrian government’s use of cluster munitions, including Resolution 68/182 on 18 December 2013, which expressed “outrage” at “continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights” including the use of cluster munitions.[5]

Bahrain is not a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Bahrain is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions, but has a sizeable stockpile imported from the United States (US).

Between 1995 and 2001, the US transferred 30,000 artillery projectiles (M509A1, M449A1, and M483) containing 5.06 million dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions to Bahrain as the weapon was phased out of the US inventory.[6]

The US has also provided M26 rockets and ATACMS-1A missiles with more than 1 million submunitions to Bahrain for its multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) launchers. Bahrain purchased 151 M26A1 MLRS extended range rocket pods (six missiles per pod, 644 submunitions per rocket) in 1996, 55 rocket pods in 1997, and 57 rocket pods in 2003.[7] In 2000, the US sold Bahrain 30 M39 ATACMS-1A missiles, each with 950 M74 submunitions.[8]

Additionally Jane’s Information Group lists Bahrain as possessing the Hydra-70 air-to-surface unguided rocket system, but it is not known if this stockpile includes the M261 multipurpose submunition variant.[9]


[1] Statement by Amb. Karim E. al-Shakar, Undersecretary of International Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a Monitor event, Manama, 2 January 2011. Notes by Protection Against Armaments and their Consequences.

[2] The minister also noted that “Bahrain was closely involved in the process of negotiating the Convention…driven by my Government’s deep concern to ensure the protection of civilians from such indiscriminate weapons.” Letter from Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, to Human Rights Watch (HRW), 23 August 2009 (forwarded to HRW through the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Washington, DC, 11 September 2009).

[3] Statement by Amb. al-Shakar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008.

[4] For details on Bahrain’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 189–190.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/68/182, 18 December 2013. Bahrain voted in favor of a similar resolution on 15 May 2013.

[6] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Excess Defense Articles,” undated.

[7] US Department of Defense, “Memorandum for Correspondents No. 091-M,” 10 May 1996; and Lockheed Martin Corporation press release, “Bahrain Purchases Lockheed Martin’s Multiple Launch Rocket System Extended-Range Rockets,” 20 December 2003.

[8] US Department of Defense, “News Release No. 591-00: Proposed Foreign Military Sale to Bahrain Announced,” 26 September 2000. The 30 ATACMS missiles contained 28,500 submunitions.

[9] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal, CD-edition, 14 December 2007 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).