Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 20 December 2023

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

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


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.[1]

Bahrain participated in two 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 that 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 at the convention’s Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018, which marked its first and to date only participation in a meeting of the convention. Bahrain was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022.

In December 2022, Bahrain abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution that urged 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 previous UNGA resolutions condemning use of cluster munitions in Syria.[5]

Bahrain is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is a State 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 United States (US) in the past, receiving 30,000 surplus M509A1, M449A1, and M483 artillery projectiles containing a total of 5.06 million dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions from 1995–2001.[6]

Bahrain has 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.[7] Bahrain 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.[8] In 2000, Bahrain purchased 30 M39 ATACMS-1A missiles, each with 950 M74 submunitions.[9] In March 2022, the US announced a US$176 million request from Bahrain to convert nine of its M270 MLRS launchers to a M270 A1 minimum configuration, which does not include the previous cluster munition variants.[10]  

Jane’s Information Group has also listed United Kingdom (UK)-made BL755 cluster bombs in the inventory of Bahrain’s air force, and reported that Bahrain possesses the Hydra-70 air-to-surface unguided rocket system, though it is not known if this includes the M261 submunition variant.[11]


Bahrain is not known to have used cluster munitions. However, Bahrain participated in a Saudi Arabia-led joint military operation in Yemen that used cluster munitions in 2015–2017.

[1] In 2016, a diplomat from Bahrain said the government’s position on joining the convention had not changed. ICBL-CMC meeting with Aysha Hamad, Third Secretary, Permanent Mission of Bahrain to the United Nations (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 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. The letter was forwarded to HRW by the Embassy of Bahrain in 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. Karim E. al-Shakar, Undersecretary of International Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/228, 24 December 2021. Bahrain voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions in 2013–2020. In December 2022, Bahrain was absent during the vote.

[6] Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), US Department of Defense, “Excess Defense Articles (EDA),” undated.

[7] Ibid.

[8] 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.

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

[10] DSCA, US Department of Defense, “Bahrain – M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) Upgrade,” 24 March 2022.

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