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The Kingdom of Bahrain has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, although it was a full participant in the formal treaty negotiations in May 2008 and adopted the convention text at the conclusion of the negotiations.

Bahrain first participated in the Oslo Process at the international treaty preparatory conference in Wellington in February 2008. In Wellington, Bahrain stated that action must be taken on cluster munitions, but that it was “regrettable” that a conference of such magnitude and importance was not being held “under the auspices of the United Nations.” Bahrain said, “Coming from the Middle East, a region with a long history of the use of cluster munitions in wars and conflicts…Bahrain believes that prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions remains a matter of priority and concern, and strongly supports all efforts to eliminate all kinds of cluster munitions, and to prohibit their use, transfer, trade and stockpiling.” Bahrain called on all states “to stop using such weapons, and [to] consider such use as a crime against humanity. Further, countries manufacturing such lethal weapons to take measures to freeze trade or ban transfer of all cluster munitions until a new internationally legally binding instrument is concluded.”[1]

The ambassador of Bahrain further said, “I assure you that Bahrain will remain faithful to the Oslo Process, and that we will continue our journey to put an end to the era of cluster munitions by doing our utmost to turn vision into reality. Let us all realise that we are building an effective and cooperative regime on cluster munitions. The commitment contained in the Oslo Declaration is a test and a challenge to all participants to conclude an agreed legally binding international instrument on cluster munitions by May 2008.”[2]

Bahrain endorsed the Wellington Declaration, indicating its commitment to participate in the Dublin negotiations on the basis of the draft text. It stated, “Without prejudice to Bahrain’s position in the final negotiations to be held in Dublin, Ireland in May 2008...[Bahrain] strongly supports the Draft Cluster Munition Convention from a disarmament as well as humanitarian perspective, both of which are greatly important to Bahrain.” Bahrain affirmed that its position “at this stage of negotiations is to support the comprehensive approach to the prohibition of cluster munitions, without exceptions.”[3]

During the Dublin negotiations, Bahrain reiterated its support for a comprehensive ban on cluster munitions and praised the achievement of a compromise text acceptable to all delegations. At the conclusion, Bahrain joined the consensus to adopt the convention, but also noted that its support for the consensus did not mean that the government of Bahrain was required to sign the convention.[4]

Bahrain subsequently attended the regional conference in Beirut in November 2008, but did not attend the Signing Conference in Oslo in December 2008.

Bahrain is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but attended the CCW sessions on cluster munitions in January and November 2008.

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

Bahrain is not known to have used or produced cluster munitions, but it has received significant exports from the United States. The US transferred 30,000 artillery projectiles (M509A1, M449A1, M483) containing 5,060,000 dual purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) submunitions to Bahrain between 1995 and 2001 as this type of ammunition was being phased out of the US inventory.[5] The US has also provided M26 rockets and ATACMS-1A missiles with more than 1,000,000 submunitions to Bahrain for its Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers. Bahrain purchased 151 M26A1 MLRS extended range rocket pods (with six rockets per pod, and 644 submunitions per rocket) in 1996, 55 rocket pods in 1997, and 57 rocket pods in 2003.[6] In 2000, the US sold Bahrain 30 M39 ATACMS-1A missiles, each with 950 M74 submunitions.[7]

[1] Statement by Amb. Karim E. Al-Shakar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 22 February 2008.

[4] Bahrain also called for the circulation of the convention in Arabic by the UN Secretary-General. Statement of Bahrain, Committee of the Whole, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 28 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[5] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Excess Defense Articles,” online database, www.dsca.osd.mil.

[6] US Department of Defense, “Memorandum for Correspondents, No. 091-M,” 10 May 1996; and “Bahrain Purchases Lockheed Martin’s Multiple Launch Rocket System Extended-Range Rockets,” Press release, Lockheed Martin Corporation, 20 December 2003. The total of 263 M26 rocket pods contained 1,578 rockets with 1,016,232 submunitions.

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