Bahrain

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

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).

Policy

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]

Use

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).


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 October 2020

Policy

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

Bahrain last expressed serious interest in accession to the Mine Ban Treaty in 2007, but has not demonstrated similar enthusiasm since then.[1] However, Bahrain did vote in favor of the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, on 12 December 2019, promoting the implementation of the convention.[2]

In January 2011, Bahrain’s undersecretary of International Affairs said that “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.”[3]

Previously, in a letter to the Monitor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “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.”[4]

Officials have cited the need to coordinate with other Gulf Cooperation Council member states regarding accession.[5] 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 last attended a Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, as an observer, in Geneva in November–December 2010.

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

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that Bahrain has never produced, exported, or used antipersonnel mines and is not mine-affected.[6] Ministry of Defense officials have said Bahrain keeps a “limited” stock of antipersonnel mines for training purposes only.[7]



[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] “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, 12 December 2019.

[3] 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.

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

[5] Various officials expressed this to ICBL members during advocacy visits in 2008 and 2009, as well as to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during a mission to Bahrain in November 2008.

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

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