Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021


Non-signatory Bahrain has expressed interest in the convention but has not taken any steps to join it. Bahrain has participated as an observer in one meeting of the convention, in 2018. It has abstained from voting on an annual United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention since 2015.

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


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

While government officials have expressed interest in the convention, Bahrain has not taken any steps to accede to it over the past decade.[1]

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.[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]

Bahrain participated as an observer in the convention’s Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018. This marked its first and to date only participation in a meeting, of the convention. It was invited to, but did not attend the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

In December 2020, Bahrain abstained from voting on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] Bahrain has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Bahrain has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[5]

Bahrain is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Bahrain is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Bahrain is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it possesses a stockpile.

Bahrain imported cluster munitions from the US, receiving 30,000 surplus M509A1, M449A1, and M483 artillery projectiles containing 5.06 million dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions in 1995–2001.[6] It also received M26 cluster munition rockets and ATACMS-1A missiles from the US containing more than one million submunitions for M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers. Bahrain also purchased 151 M26A1 MLRS extended range rocket pods (six missiles per pod, 644 submunitions per rocket) from the US in 1996 as well as 55 rocket pods in 1997 and 57 rocket pods in 2003.[7] In 2000, Bahrain purchased 30 M39 ATACMS-1A missiles, each with 950 M74 submunitions.[8]

Jane’s Information Group has listed Bahrain as possessing the Hydra-70 air-to-surface unguided rocket system, but it is not known if this includes the M261 submunition variant. The same source lists UK-made BL755 cluster bombs in the inventory of Bahrain’s air force.[9]


Bahrain is not known to have used cluster munitions. Since March 2015, it has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led joint military operation in Yemen that has used cluster munitions against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah.

[1] In 2016, a diplomat from Bahrain said the government’s position on joining the convention has not changed. ICBL-CMC meeting with Aysha Hamad, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the UN in New York, New York, October 2016. In 2011, an official said Bahrain was studying the convention and considering joining, while taking into account of the “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. In 2009, a government minister said that Bahrain was 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] 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.

[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 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Bahrain voted in favor of similar resolutions from 2013–2019.

[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).