Bahrain

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2017

Summary: Non-signatory Bahrain has expressed support for the ban on cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to accede to the convention. Bahrain has never participated in a meeting of the convention and abstained from the vote on a key UN resolution on the convention in December 2016.

Bahrain is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but stockpiles cluster munitions primarily imported from the United States (US). Since March 2015, Bahrain has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led military operation in Yemen that has used cluster munitions.

Policy

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

Bahrain has expressed support for a ban on cluster munitions and said it is studying the convention, but it has not taken any steps towards accession.[1] In October 2016, a diplomat from Bahrain told the Cluster Munition Coalition that the government’s position on joining the convention has not changed.[2] During the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions in February 2008, Bahrain called upon states “to stop using such weapons, and should consider such use as a crime against humanity” and affirmed it “strongly supports all efforts to eliminate all kinds of cluster munitions, and to prohibit their use, transfer, trade and stockpiling.”[3]

In December 2016, Bahrain abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] It also abstained from voting on the first UNGA resolution on the convention in December 2015.[5]

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.[6]

Bahrain has not participated in any meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, even as an observer.

Bahrain has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2016.[7]

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

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Bahrain is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and has a sizable stockpile.

Bahrain imported cluster munitions from the US, but the most recent transfer is not known. 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.[8] The US has also provided M26 rockets and ATACMS-1A missiles with more than 1 million submunitions to Bahrain for its M270 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.[9] In 2000, the US sold Bahrain 30 M39 ATACMS-1A missiles, each with 950 M74 submunitions.[10]

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. The same source lists UK-made BL755 cluster bombs as being part of the inventory of Bahrain’s air force.[11]

Use

Since March 2015, Bahrain has participated in a Saudi-led joint military operation against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, in Yemen, which has used cluster munitions.

Bahrain has not commented on evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen, including Brazilian-made ASTROS cluster munition rockets of the same type that Bahrain possesses.[12] However, a statement by the “Coalition Forces Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen” published by the Saudi Press Agency in December 2016 states:

“International law does not ban the use of cluster munitions. Some States have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor its Coalition partners are State Parties to the 2008 Convention, and accordingly, the Coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these States under international law.”[13]

 


[1] In 2011, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said Bahrain was studying the convention and the Mine Ban Treaty and considering its position on joining, taking into account “positions of other states in the region.” 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. Previously, in 2009, a government minister also said that authorities in Bahrain were studying the possibility of joining the convention, which he described as necessary “to avoid further civilian casualties from these weapons.” 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 by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Washington, DC, 11 September 2009).

[2] ICBL-CMC meeting with Aysha Hamad, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the UN in New York, New York, October 2016.

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

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

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

[7]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 71/203, 19 December 2016. Bahrain voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2015.

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

[9] 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.

[10] 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.

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

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 October 2017

Policy

The Kingdom of Bahrain has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Bahrain last expressed serious interest in accession to the treaty in 2007, but it has not demonstrated similar enthusiasm since then.[1] Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that the country has never produced, exported, or used antipersonnel mines and is not mine-affected.[2] Ministry of Defense officials have said Bahrain keeps a “limited” stock of antipersonnel mines for training purposes only.[3]

In January 2011, Bahrain’s Undersecretary of International Affairs stated “Bahrain participated in all meetings of the convention but did not accede for security reasons, and the agreement at the Gulf Cooperation Council to join collectively.”[4]

Previously, in a letter to the ICBL, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Bahrain endorses the treaty’s aims and principles and continues to study closely the possibility of accession. Such accession would involve complex legal, domestic and international issues, and a number of relevant authorities in Bahrain are continuing to carry out close study of such issues.”[5]

Officials have cited the need to coordinate with other Gulf Cooperation Council member states regarding accession.[6] In November 2010, Prince Mired of Jordan, acting in his capacity as the Special Envoy on Universalization, met with Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander Shaikh Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa, who stated that he was open to becoming a State Party.

Bahrain is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It joined Protocol III, Protocol IV, and Protocol V of the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 11 March 2016.



[1] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 814. In November 2007, during an ICBL mission, members of the Bahraini House of Representatives, including the vice-speaker, expressed support for accession to the treaty, and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs representative spoke of accelerating the accession process. In May 2007, in response to an ICBL letter, Bahrain wrote, “His Highness the Prime Minister and his Government are tackling this issue with sincere concern and full commitment.” During a March 2007 ICBL mission, several Bahraini officials and legislators expressed support for accession to the treaty.

[2] Notes from ICBL meeting with Mohamed Ghassan Shaiko, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Manama, 12 April 2005.

[3] Amb. Satnam Jit Singh, “Mission Report – Bahrain, 26–30 September 2004,” 30 September 2004.

[4] Oral response by Amb. Karim Ebrahim Al-Shakar, Undersecretary of International Affairs, Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the request by attendees of the Monitor report release event for Bahrain to join the Mine Ban Treaty and draft an accession law, Manama, 2 January 2011.

[5] Letter from Amb. Fouad Darwish, Director of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 24 November 2008.

[6] Various officials expressed this to ICBL members during advocacy visits in 2008 and 2009, as well as to the ICRC during a mission to Bahrain in November 2008.