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Last Updated: 12 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Kingdom of Morocco has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Morocco’s position on joining the convention has not changed since March 2011, when it expressed support for the humanitarian principles of the convention, but informed the Monitor that it views the country’s accession as “a strategic objective…that will be achieved once security imperatives related to the protection of its southern provinces disappear.”[1]

In 2010, an official stated that the government was studying the Convention on Cluster Munitions and, until a final decision was reached, Morocco would continue with the same policy approach that it uses regarding the Mine Ban Treaty.[2] Moroccan officials have repeatedly stated that the dispute over Western Sahara is the only obstacle preventing Morocco from acceding to the Mine Ban Treaty. Morocco has also said that it “applies de facto” the Mine Ban Treaty’s “obligations and fully and unconditionally aligns itself with its principles and objectives.”[3] Similarly, in September 2011, Morocco emphasized that for the Convention on Cluster Munitions “de facto universality is as fundamental as de jure universality.”[4]

Morocco participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention in Dublin in May 2008, but did not sign the convention.[5]

Morocco has engaged in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions despite not joining. It has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September 2013. Morocco has attended all intersessional meetings of the convention in Geneva since 2011, including those held in April 2014.

Morocco has voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the Syrian government’s cluster munition use, including Resolution 68/182 on 18 December 2013 which expressed “outrage” at Syria’s “continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights…including those involving the use of…cluster munitions.”[6]

Morocco is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Morocco is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, transfer, use, and stockpiling

In March 2011, Morocco stated that it has never produced or transferred cluster munitions.[7] In September 2011, a representative of Morocco told the Monitor that it did not use, import, export, or stockpile cluster munitions during the previous year.[8]

Moroccan forces have imported and used cluster munitions in the past. Moroccan forces used artillery-fired and air-dropped cluster munitions against the Polisario Front in the disputed territory of Western Sahara during their conflict from 1975–1988. Between 1980 and 1981, the Royal Moroccan Air Force conducted attacks on Akka, Guelta Zemmour, Hausa, and Messeid using French-made cluster bombs.[9] In March 1982, the Royal Moroccan Air Force attacked the Bu-Crag area with cluster bombs supplied by the United States (US).[10]

The British NGO Action on Armed Violence (formerly Landmine Action) has reported significant contamination in Western Sahara from US-made CBU-71 cluster bombs with BLU-63 submunitions and from US-made M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with M42 and M46 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[11]

There are also remnants of cluster munitions in neighboring Mauritania of the same types used by Morocco in Western Sahara. It is unclear when the cluster munition attacks took place.

The current status and composition of Morocco’s stockpile of cluster munitions is not known. Between 1970 and 1995, the US transferred to Morocco 2,994 CBU-52, 1,752 CBU-58, 748 CBU-71, and 850 Rockeye cluster bombs.[12] Combined, those cluster bombs contained nearly 2.5 million submunitions.

Morocco also possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads.[13]


[1] “A l’instar de sa politique vis à vis de la Convention sur les Mines antipersonnel, l’adhésion du Royaume du Maroc à la CCM constitue un objectif stratégique qui sera réalisé dès la disparition des impératifs sécuritaires liés à la protection de ses provinces du Sud.” Letter from Amb. Omar Hilale, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, to Mary Wareham, Senior Advisor, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 28 March 2011.

[2] Interview with Amb. Fardani El-Houcine, Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco to Vietnam, in Vientiane, 10 November 2010.

[3] “Kingdom of Morocco’s Position in regards to the CCM: Main points,” statement attached to letter from Amb. Hilale, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 28 March 2011.

[4] “En effet, l'universalité de facto est aussi fondamentale que l'universalité de jure.” Statement of Morocco, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[5] For details on Morocco’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 221–223.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/68/182, 18 December 2013. Morocco voted in favor of a similar resolution on 15 May 2013.

[7] “Kingdom of Morocco’s Position in regards to the CCM: Main points,” statement attached to letter from Amb. Hilale, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 28 March 2011.

[8] Interview with Amb. Hilale, in Beirut, 13 September 2011.

[9] Lt.-Col. David Dean, “The Air Force Role in Low-Intensity Conflict,” United States (US) Air Force, Air University Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education, 1986, p. 45. Undated photographs of Royal Moroccan Air Force Mirage aircraft on static display with its weaponry clearly show BLG-66 Belouga bombs.

[10] Ibid., p. 70.

[11] Landmine Action, “Explosive Ordnance Disposal and technical survey in Polisario-controlled areas of Western Sahara,” Project proposal, February 2006, p. 4; email from Simon Conway, Director, Landmine Action, 3 May 2006; and Handicap International (HI), Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 134, citing email from Capt. Muhammad Aimaar Iqbal, UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, Western Sahara, 19 April 2007.

[12] US Defense Security Assistance Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” 15 November 1995, obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[13] International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 323; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 3 December 2007 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).