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.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The State of Kuwait acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 30 July 2007, becoming a State Party on 1 January 2008.

As of October 2019, Kuwait has not submitted an annual update to its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report since 2011. In its last report, dated 24 May 2010, Kuwait indicated that efforts were “in progress to enact the required legislation to meet the elements of this convention,” but provided no further detail.[1] It indicated the same thing in its report dated May 2009. In July 2009, Kuwait stated that government “has submitted a draft Military Law to the Parliament in Kuwait to prohibit the possession of conventional weapons for those not authorized…”[2]

Kuwait has also cited elements of its existing law as serving to implement the Mine Ban Treaty. In a November 2009 letter, Kuwait cited three existing articles, stating that through these “the State of Kuwait enjoys the appropriate legal and administrative measures” in line with Article 9 on national implementation measures.[3]

Kuwait regularly attends meetings of the treaty, most recently the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it did not make a statement. However, Kuwait did not attend the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014. Kuwait also did not attend the intersessional meetings in Geneva in May 2019.

Kuwait is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its amended Protocol II on landmines, as well as Protocol V on explosive remnants. Kuwait is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Stockpiling, destruction, production, transfer, and use

Kuwait is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It did not declare any production facilities in its Article 7 reports.[4] Officials from the Ministry of Defense told the Monitor in 2002 that Kuwaiti forces have never used mines.[5]

In its initial Article 7 report of May 2008, Kuwait declared a stockpile of 91,432 antipersonnel mines, composed of six types.[6] In a July 2009 letter, Kuwait informed States Parties that it had destroyed its stockpile.[7] This was accomplished far in advance of its treaty-mandated deadline of 1 January 2012. The letter did not provide any details on the destruction process, such as the location and method of destruction, the quantities or types of mines destroyed, or the dates of initiation and completion of destruction. Kuwait’s Article 7 reports submitted in May 2009 and May 2010 do not report specifically on the destruction of the mines, nor do they report any mines transferred for the purpose of destruction. Both reports list “non” on the form for stockpiled mines.[8] In a statement at the Tenth Meeting of States Parties Kuwait affirmed that the destruction process was finished in June 2008.[9]

Kuwait has stated that it does not retain any mines for training purposes, and has not indicated in previous Article 7 reports that it retains mines.[10]



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 24 May 2010. The report is dated 24 May 2010, but was received by the UN on 29 April 2010.

[2] Letter M 134/2009 from the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the UN to the Implementation Support Unit (ISU), Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), 9 July 2009.

[3] Letter M 236/2009 from the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the UN to the ISU, GICHD, 11 November 2009. The letter refers to Articles 1 and 3 of Act 35 of 1985, and Article 171 of Act 16 of 1960. Kuwait also wrote in its Article 7 reports submitted in 2009 and 2010 that “recent panel [sic] code for the state of Kuwait” is applied, which has “prohibited such acts mentioned in the convention” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 24 May 2009; and Article 7 Report, Form A, 24 May 2010.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form E, 24 May 2010, 24 May 2009, and 28 May 2008.

[5] Information provided by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, 10 April 2002.

[6] This total quantity of mines was inconsistent with the quantity listed next to each of the six mine types, which added to 87,582. These included: 12,151 P-40 bounding fragmentation mines (apparently with fuze assemblies, produced by Italy); 6,848 TS-50 blast mines (apparently without fuzes, provided by Egypt); 2,765 NR-409 blast mines (produced by Belgium); 64,033 C3A1 Elsie blast mines (produced by Canada); 446 M14 blast mines (origin not specified); and 1,339 of an unknown type of high explosive mine with, presumably, a tripwire. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 28 May 2008.

[7] The letter states that Kuwait “would like to communicate that the Competent Authorities in the State of Kuwait (Ministry of Defence) have destroyed the stockpile of Anti-Personnel Mines as mentioned in the State of Kuwait’s report on transparency measures (7.1b) reporting period 1st June 2008 – 30 March 2009,” Letter M 134/2009 from the Permanent Mission of Kuwait to the UN to the ISU, GICHD, 9 July 2009. The reference to the Article 7 report presumably applies to Kuwait’s initial report dated 28 May 2008, which erroneously lists the reporting period as 1 June 2008 to 30 March 2009.

[8] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Forms B, D, F, and G, 24 May 2009, and 24 May 2010.

[9] Statement of Kuwait, Mine Ban Treaty Tenth Meeting of States Parties, 2 December 2010.

[10] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form D, 24 May 2010, 24 May 2009, and 28 May 2008.


Mine Action

Last updated: 17 December 2012

Contamination and Impact

Mines

Wide desert and coastal areas of Kuwait were contaminated with mines as a result of the 1990–1991 Gulf War. Despite massive clearance operations that employed foreign contractors following the war, mines remain in some areas, particularly along the natural sand corridors, although the precise extent of residual contamination is not known. In its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports, Kuwait declared no known or suspected mined areas, noting that there are “no mined areas left in Kuwait recently and formally [sic].”[1] Incidents involving mines have, however, continued to occur, most recently in June 2011.[2]

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

There is also a residual problem of unexploded submunitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) from the 1990–1991 Gulf War. In December 2010, for example, 3.5 tons of unexploded ordnance, including an unspecified number of unexploded submunitions, were found south of Kuwait city. The area was cleared by Ministry of Defense personnel.[3] On 11 May 2011, six unexploded submunitions were detected close to an agricultural farm in Abdaly near the border with Iraq. A team from the Ministry of the Interior disposed of these munitions, which were believed to be remnants of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.[4]

Mine Action Program

There is no formal mine action program in Kuwait. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for coordinating all demining operations. The Engineering Corps of the Land Forces deals with mines, cluster munition remnants, and other ERW in desert areas, while the Ministry of Interior deals with ordnance in populated areas. Both bodies respond to calls from public and private organizations.

Land Release

Clearance of contamination is based on responding to reports of items or explosions. Kuwait does not report formally on antipersonnel mines or other ordnance destroyed during these operations.[5]

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Kuwait is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 January 2018. In December 2009, Kuwait reaffirmed its commitment to tackling the use of antipersonnel mines, which caused serious damage to people and the environment during the 1990–1991 Iraqi occupation of the country and said that it would do its best to clear its territory of antipersonnel mines.[6]

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Forms C and F, 28 May 2008, 24 May 2009, and 24 May 2010.

[2] Email from Dr. Raafat Misak, Scientific Researcher, Environment and Urban Development Division, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, 2 August 2011.

[3] Ibid., 2 August 2011.

[4] Report in Al Qabas (daily newspaper), 12 May 2011, p. 10.

[5] See, for example, Article 7 Reports, Form G, 24 May 2009 and 24 May 2010.

[6] See, for example, “Kuwait signs Cartagena declaration on fighting use of landmines,” Kuwait News Agency (Kuwait), 6 December 2009, www.kuna.net.kw.


Casualties

Last updated: 10 October 2018

 

Casualties

All known casualties (from August 1990 and 2017)

1,486 mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties (240 killed; 1,248 injured)

Casualties in 2017

Annual total

4

Increase from
3 in 2016

Survival outcome

2 killed; 2 injured

Device type causing casualties

4 antipersonnel mine

Civilian status

4 civilians

Age and gender

3 adults:
0 women; 3 men

1 child:
1 boy; 0 girls

 

The Monitor identified four landmine casualties in the State of Kuwait for 2017. A Kuwaiti man was killed by a landmine on Al-Salmi road.[1] A Sudanese man and a Bangladeshi national were killed when one stepped on a landmine at the Al-Abraq desert area.[2] An eight-year-old child was injured in a landmine explosion in Kabd area.[3] 

People most affected by landmines in Kuwait are migrant workers, mainly shepherds from south Asia who work in the desert areas of the country and are often unaware of the mine/ERW threat.

In 2016, three landmine causalities were identified in Kuwait. Two Ethiopian shepherds were injured in a mine incident on Al-Salmi road,[4] and a Bangladeshi shepherd was killed by a landmine explosion, also in the Al-Salmi desert in southwestern Kuwait.[5] In March 2015, a Bangladeshi shepherd was killed and his colleague injured by a landmine near the Ahmad Al-Jaber base at Abdullah Port.[6] In April 2014, a Sudanese shepherd was killed in the north of the country.[7] In 2013, an Indian shepherd lost both legs and was blinded by a landmine in the Al-Salmi desert; in 2012, a Bangladeshi shepherd was killed.[8]  

After the first gulf war, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) recorded 1,405 mine/ERW casualties in Kuwait from August 1990 to 2002, including 85 killed and 1,026 injured by mines, and 119 killed and 175 injured by ERW.[9] 

Cluster munition casualties

Between 1990 and 2006, at least 198 cluster munition remnants casualties were recorded in Kuwait (61 killed; 137 injured). These casualties were mostly deminers and clearance personnel.[10] 



[1] Kuwaiti Injured in Landmine Explosion,” Kuwait Local, 9 January 2017.

[2] Two killed in landmine explosion,” Kuwait Times, 13 May 2017.

[3] 8 Year Old Child Injured In Landmine Explosion,” Kuwait Local, 26 November 2017.

[4] Hanan Al-Saadoun, “Two Ethiopian shepherds injured in landmine explosion,” Kuwait Times,28 February 2016.

[5] Hanan Al-Saadoun, “Man killed in Salmi landmine explosion,” Kuwait Times, 24 December 2016; and “A Bangladeshi Shepherd Killed In Landmine Explosion,” Kuwait Local, 23 December 2016.

[6] Landmine blast claims Bangladeshi Shepherd,” Kuwait Times,9 March 2015.

[7] Sudanese shepherd killed in landmine explosion,” Kuwait Times, 13 April 2014.

[8] Landmine Explosion in the desert: Shepherd lost his legs,” Kuwait Times (International), 1 March 2013; Dester Girl Kuwait blog, “Help Shankar - Landmine Injury Victim in Kuwait,” 8 September 2013; and “Stray Mine Kills Shepherd,” Kuwait Times, 4 June 2012. In 2013, the Monitor, which was updated on 25 November 2013, had reported an additional person injured in 2012, however media reports had incorrectly dated the incident. See, “No end in sight for plight of injured Indian worker – Nearly killed by Iraqi landmine,” Kuwait Times, 15 September 2013. The report records the incident as occurring on 26 February 2012, rather than the same date in 2013.

[9] International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Landmine Monitor Report 2002: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, August 2002).

[10] Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels, May 2007), p. 18. There has been a lack of data on civilian casualties.


Victim Assistance

Last updated: 05 May 2017

The State of Kuwait provided assistance to victims of mines/ERW, including free medical care and physiotherapy, education, and financial support, as well as access to social and residency services, transportation services, and prosthesis workshops for survivors.[1] The two mine survivors from Ethiopia in 2016 were taken to intensive care by ambulance because weather conditions prevented a medivac.[2]

Approximately 68% of residents in Kuwait are non-citizens, many of whom are migrant workers from the Indian subcontinent. Societal discrimination against non-citizens is prevalent and occurs in most areas of daily life, including employment, education, housing, and healthcare. In June 2013, the government began segregating public hospital staff as well as treatment times between citizens and non-citizens, reserving mornings for the treatment of citizens exclusively, except in case of non-citizen emergencies.[3]

Kuwait has legislation prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities, including those resulting from mines/ERW, in a variety of sectors including education, employment, transportation, healthcare, and access to government services. These provisions were generally enforced, but non-citizens with disabilities did not receive equal access to financial or social assistance.[4]

Kuwait ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 22 August 2013.



[1] Amir Moran “Kuwait calls for limiting hazards of remnants of war,” Emirates News Agency, 12 November 2015.

[2] Hanan Al-Saadoun, “Two Ethiopian shepherds injured in landmine explosion,” Kuwait Times, 28 February 2016.

[3] United States Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kuwait,” Washington, DC, 3 March 2017.

[4] Ibid.