Kuwait

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 December 2023

Summary

Non-signatory Kuwait acknowledges the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It last participated in a meeting of the convention in 2013. Kuwait abstained from voting on a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Kuwait is not known to have used or produced cluster munitions, but has imported them and possesses a stockpile.

 

Policy

The State of Kuwait has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Kuwait has not taken any steps to join the convention and rarely comments on its position on acceding. In 2011, Kuwait said that the convention has “important humanitarian, social, [and] economic dimensions that oblige the international community to put forward [a] suitable solution to end future use of this weapon.”[1]

Kuwait participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but attended the Dublin negotiations in May 2008 only as an observer and did not participate in the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[2]

Kuwait has participated as an observer at meetings of the convention, but not since 2013.[3] It 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, Kuwait abstained from the vote on a key UNGA resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] Previously, Kuwait voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention in 2020–2021, having abstained from voting in 2015–2019.

Kuwait is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.

 

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

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

Kuwait imported the Russian-produced 27 Smerch 300mm multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), fitted with dual-purpose and sensor-fuzed submunitions, in 1995.[5] Additionally, Jane’s Information Group lists Kuwait as possessing the Hydra-70 air-to-surface unguided rocket system, but it is not known if this includes the M261 multipurpose submunition variant.[6]

The United States (US) may stockpile cluster munitions in Kuwait, according to a May 2007 US diplomatic cable.[7]



[1] Interview with Zeyad al-Mashan, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, in Beirut, 14 September 2011. In 2009 and 2010, Kuwait said that it was studying the implications of accession to the convention. CMC meeting with the Kuwait delegation to the Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 9 November 2010; and ICBL meeting with the Kuwait delegation to the Mine Ban Treaty Second Review Conference, Cartagena, 30 November–4 December 2009.

[2] For details on Kuwait’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 220. In September 2011, Wikileaks released a United States (US) Department of State cable showing that in a meeting on 22 May 2007, the US asked Kuwait to “reconsider” its participation in the Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions. Kuwait did not attend the conference, which was held on 23–25 May 2007. See, “U.S.-Kuwait Gulf Security Dialogue Talks,” US Department of State cable dated 5 June 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

[3] Kuwait participated as an observer at the convention’s First Meeting of States Parties in Vientiane, Lao PDR in November 2010, and the Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011. It also attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in 2012–2013.

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

[5] “Kuwait to get smart submunitions for Smerch MRL,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 21 April 1995.

[6] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal, CD-edition (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, January 2008).

[7] The cable contains the text of a message sent from a US military advisor to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities concerning a transfer of “ammunition immediately via US Air Force aircraft from Kuwait stockpile to Lebanon.” With respect to the items to be transferred, the cable states: “The United States will not approve any cluster munitions or white phosphorus.” See, “Follow-up on UAE response to Lebanese request for emergency aid,” US Department of State cable 07ABUDHABI876 dated 24 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.