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Last Updated: 19 October 2010

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has not made a clear statement of its cluster munition policy.

Libya did not participate in any of the international preparatory meetings to develop the text of the convention, but did attend two regional conferences promoting it and endorsed declarations supporting the ban convention.[1] Libya chose to attend the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 only as an observer, and thus did not join the 107 full participants in adopting the convention.

Libya attended the Africa Regional Conference on the Universalization and Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Pretoria, South Africa in March 2010, but did not attend the International Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Santiago, Chile in June 2010.

Libya is not a party to the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Libya has used cluster munitions in the past and is believed to possess a stockpile, although the current status and composition of the stockpile are unknown.  Libya is not thought to have produced or exported cluster munitions.

Libyan forces used aerial cluster bombs, likely RBK bombs of Soviet/Russian origin, containing AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5 submunitions at various locations during its intervention in Chad during the 1986–1987 conflict.[2] Jane’s Information Group lists Libya as possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and RBK-500 aerial cluster bombs, again presumably of Soviet/Russian origin.[3]

On 27 November 2009, a commercial oil company survey crew in Libya found remnants of a German World War II-era “butterfly bomb” (an early version of a cluster bomb).  Subsequently, an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) expert identified six more such cluster munition remnants.[4]

On 25 March 1986, United States Navy aircraft attacked Libyan ships using Mk-20 Rockeye cluster bombs in the Gulf of Sidra. On the night of 14–15April 1986, US Navy aircraft dropped 60 Rockeye bombs on the airfield at Benina.[5]

[1] At the Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions in April 2008, Libya endorsed the Livingstone Declaration, which called on African states to support the negotiation of a “total and immediate” prohibition on cluster munitions. At the Kampala Conference on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2008, Libya endorsed the Kampala Action Plan, which called on all African states to sign and ratify the convention as soon as possible.  For more details on Libya’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 220–221.

[2] Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: Handicap International, 2007), p. 48.

[3] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 842.

[4] Daily report by Jan-Ole Robertz, EOD Technical Advisor, Countermine Libya, 27 November 2009.

[5] Daniel P. Bolger, Americans at War: 1975–1986, An Era of Violent Peace (Novato, CA.: Presidio Press, 1988), p. 423.