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The Kingdom of Morocco has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, despite the fact that it participated in the Oslo Process and adopted the convention at the conclusion of the negotiations in May 2008. Morocco has a stockpile of cluster munitions and used the weapon in the past.

Morocco is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. It has taken part in and supported the CCW’s work on cluster munitions in recent years.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

At the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006, Morocco did not support a proposal for a mandate to negotiate a legally binding instrument “that addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[1] Morocco did not attend the initial meeting in Oslo in February 2007 to launch the Oslo Process, or the subsequent international conference in Lima.

By the time of the CCW Meeting of the States Parties in November 2007, Morocco’s position had shifted and it said it now fully supported a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions in the framework of the CCW.[2] Morocco then participated in the last two international diplomatic conferences of the Oslo Process to develop the convention text in Vienna and Wellington.

In Vienna, Morocco stated that it attached special importance to the issue, but believed that the CCW was the right forum for negotiations, as it included the main producers and users of cluster munitions. Morocco stated it would support a proposal by Germany for a new protocol on cluster munitions in the CCW.[3]

At the Wellington conference, Morocco continued to state its preference for work in the CCW, and said that the Oslo Process “complements the work of the CCW.” It reaffirmed its association with the humanitarian objectives of the Oslo Process.[4] Morocco expressed its views on a number of provisions in the draft convention text, particularly on victim assistance.[5] Morocco subscribed to the Wellington Declaration, indicating its intention to participate fully in the formal negotiations in Dublin on the basis of the Wellington text.

Morocco participated in the African regional conference in Livingstone from 31 March to 1 April 2008, where it endorsed the Livingstone Declaration, which called on African states to support a comprehensive convention with a “total and immediate” prohibition on the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of cluster munitions.[6]

During the Dublin Diplomatic Conference in May 2008, Morocco weighed in on a number of issues, including that of “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party).[7] Morocco joined in the consensus adoption of the convention at the conclusion of the negotiations.

Morocco continued to support work in the CCW on cluster munitions. In the September 2008 session, Morocco spoke of the need for a legally binding instrument on cluster munitions that struck a balance between military and humanitarian considerations. It stated that a CCW instrument should be compatible with the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[8] When CCW States Parties failed to reach agreement on a new protocol in November 2008, Morocco supported the continuation of work on cluster munitions in the CCW in 2009.[9]

During the Global Week of Action, from 26–29 October 2008, the CMC, ICBL, and the Egyptian NGO Protection Against Armaments and Consequences jointly organized an advocacy mission to Morocco to discuss the convention and urge Morocco to publicly announce it would sign in Oslo in December 2008.[10] Senior military officials told the mission that they were not opposed to signing.[11] A senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that internal consultations were being conducted at that time.[12]

However, Morocco attended the Oslo signing conference on 3–4 December 2008 only as an observer. It did not make a statement. Morocco has not provided a public explanation for why it has not yet signed the convention.

Use, Stockpiling, Transfer, and Production

Moroccan forces used artillery-fired and air-dropped cluster munitions against the Polisario Front (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguía el Hamra and Río de Oro) in the disputed territory of the Western Sahara at some point during their conflict from 1975–1988. Landmine Action reports that there is significant contamination in Western Sahara from CBU-71 cluster bombs with BLU-63 submunitions, and from M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with M42 and M46 dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[13]

Between 1970 and 1995, the United States transferred 2,994 CBU-52, 1,752 CBU-58, 748 CBU-71, and 850 Rockeye cluster bombs to Morocco.[14] Combined, those cluster bombs contained nearly 2.5 million submunitions. The M483A1 artillery projectiles noted above are also produced in the United States.

Morocco is not known to have produced its own cluster munitions. The current status and composition of its stockpile of cluster munitions is not known.

[1] Proposal for a Mandate to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument that Addresses the Humanitarian Concerns Posed by Cluster Munitions, Presented by Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.1, Geneva, 25 October 2006.

[2] Statement of Morocco, 2007 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, 7 November 2007. Notes by WILPF.

[3] Statement of Morocco, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 5 December 2007. Notes by CMC/ WILPF.

[4] Statement of Morocco, Session on General Obligation and Scope, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008. Morocco also stated its intention to accede to Protocol V.

[5] Statement of Morocco, Session on Victim Assistance, Wellington Conference, 20 February 2008. It supported including families and communities in the definition of cluster munition victim; reference to human rights, medical care, psychological support, and socio-economic rehabilitation of victims; the inclusion of victims in decision-making processes; and a non-discriminatory approach to assistance for victims.

[6] Livingstone Declaration, Livingstone Conference on Cluster Munitions, 1 April 2008.

[7] While initially opposed to any provisions on interoperability, in order to reach a compromise Morocco offered language that would require states not party to justify the military necessity of use of cluster munitions during joint operations. The language was ultimately not accepted. Proposal by Morocco, supported by Senegal and Mauritania, for the amendment of the Proposal by Germany, supported by Denmark, France, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom for the amendment of Article 1, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/19, 20 May 2008.

[8] Statement of Morocco, Fourth 2008 Session of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 1 September 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[9] Statement of Morocco, 2008 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, 13 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[10] CMC, “Global Week of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs: 27 October – 2 November 2008,” www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[11] Interview with General Ben Elias, Office of the Army General Inspector, and two other generals, Rabat, 29 November 2008.

[12] Interview with Nasser Bourita, Director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of the International Organizations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rabat, 29 November 2008.

[13] 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, “Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities,” Brussels, 2007, p. 134, citing email from Capt. Muhammad Aimaar Iqbal, MINURSO, 19 April 2007, en.handicapinternational.be.

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