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Last Updated: 12 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The State of Qatar has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Qatar has never made a public statement detailing its position on joining the ban convention, but it has spoken out against Syria’s use of cluster munitions and participated in several meetings of the convention. In September 2013, a Ministry of Defense representative informed the CMC that the government was reviewing a previous decision taken in 2008 to delay joining the convention.[1] Since 2009, Qatar has informed the Monitor that it is studying the convention.[2]

Qatar participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and joined in its consensus adoption in Dublin in May 2008. Yet Qatar attended the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008 only as an observer and did not sign the convention.[3]

Despite not joining, Qatar has continued to engage in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has attended every Meeting of States Parties of the convention as an observer, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September 2013, but did not make any statements at these meetings. Qatar attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva once, in April 2013.

On 16 October 2012, Qatar said it was “appalled” that the Syrian government had “used advanced weapons and cluster munitions against its own people.”[4] Qatar has voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning Syria’s cluster munition use, including Resolution 68/182 on 18 December 2013, which expressed “outrage” at Syria’s “continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights…including those involving the use of…cluster munitions.”[5]

Qatar is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In September 2011, a government representative informed the Monitor that Qatar has never exported or used cluster munitions.[6] Qatar is not known to have produced cluster munitions.

In September 2013, a Ministry of Defense representative confirmed to the CMC that Qatar possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, which have been used in training.[7] Qatar also acquired ASTROS rockets with cluster munition warheads from Brazil.[8]

Foreign stockpiling

According to a United States (US) diplomatic cable dated 26 November 2008 and released by Wikileaks in 2011, the US Armed Forces stored cluster munitions in Qatar. The cable states, “The U.S. stores cluster munitions in Qatar. Post reports that it is unknown whether Qatar is aware that U.S. cluster munitions are stored there. Post suspects that if Qatar does sign the treaty, the Qataris would want to ensure no cluster munitions are stored there, though to Post’s knowledge this is not something the U.S. has ever discussed with Doha. The U.S. would need to make a direct inquiry to determine if Qatar is going to sign and to discover Qatari intentions. Post anticipates Qatar would request removal of cluster munitions if Qatar signed and were aware of U.S. stocks.”[9]


[1] CMC interview with Brigadier-General Ahmad Abdulrahim Al-Abdellah, Ministry of Defense, in Lusaka, 11 September 2013.

[2] Monitor interview with Brig. Gen. Nasser al-Ali, Chair of National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons (NCPW), Qatar Armed Forces, in Beirut, 13 September 2011. In March 2009, Qatar said that a committee established to review the convention had recommended that a decision on joining the convention be postponed in order to study the matter further. Letter from Amb. Nassir Adbulaziz al-Nasser, Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN in New York, New York, to Human Rights Watch, 9 March 2009. The letter stated this was “the response of the concerned authority” in Qatar, and contained an annex with an unofficial translation into English.

[3] For more details on Qatar’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. 228–229.

[4] Email from Anna Fritzsche, Campaign and Research Assistant, Crisis Action, 16 October 2012.

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

[6] Monitor interview with Brig. Gen. al-Ali, NCPW, Qatar Armed Forces, Beirut, 13 September 2011.

[7] CMC interview with Brig. Gen. Ahmad Abdulrahim Al-Abdellah, Qatar Ministry of Defense, Lusaka, 11 September 2013.

[8] Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds. Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), pp. 630–631.

[9] The cable also states that “Unlike other potential signatory states (Germany, Japan, UK) where U.S. military forces store cluster munitions, Italy, Spain, and Qatar have not yet approached the Department or DoD on this issue.” Demarche to Italy, Spain and Qatar Regarding Convention on Cluster Munitions,US Department of State cable 08STATE125632 dated 26 November 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.