Summary: Non-signatory Libya has expressed interest in the convention, but has not taken any steps to accede to it. Libya has participated in several meetings of the convention, most recently in September 2016, and voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2017.
Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and possess a stockpile. Cluster Munition Monitor has not able to independently verify and confirm evidence of possible cluster munition use in Libya in the past year.
Libya has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Libya has expressed interest in joining the convention, but has not taken any steps to accede. Previously, in September 2012, Libya informed States Parties that it was “committed” to promoting the convention.
Since December 2015, a Government of National Accord (GNA) resulting from a UN-facilitated political process has continued to function in Libya despite continued hostilities between two major factions to the agreement, namely the House of Representatives allied with General Khalifa Hiftar in the east of Libya, who commands the Libya National Army (LNA), and the alliance of militias known as the Libyan Dawn coalition that controls much of western Libya. Other parts of Libyan territory are controlled or contested by smaller militias.
Under the former government ofMuammar Gaddafi, Libya participated in three regional conferences held during the 2007–2008 Oslo Process that developed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but attended the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 only as an observer and did not join in the consensus adoption of the convention. Libya did not attend the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.
Libya has participated as an observer in several meetings of the convention, most recently the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016.
In December 2017, Libya voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.” Libya voted in favor of previous UNGA resolutions promoting the convention’s implementation in 2015 and 2016.
Libya has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2016.
Libya is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Production, transfer, and stockpiling
Libya is not known to have produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported and stockpiles them.
The current status and composition of Libya’s stockpiled cluster munitions is not known, including information on the types, quantities, and storage locations.Portions of the stockpile of cluster munitions were seized by anti-government forces and civilians in 2011, after storage facilities at arms depots were abandoned by government forces and subjected to NATO airstrikes. There has been no systematic or coordinated stockpile destruction effort by successive interim governments or international actors.
From the use of cluster munitions in recent years, it is clear that Libya has stockpiled air-dropped bombs (RBK-series bombs containing AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5M submunitions), ground-fired munitions (MAT-120 mortar projectiles containing submunitions), and an unidentified type of submunition contained in Grad-type 122mm surface-to-surface rockets. Additionally, in the past, Jane’s Information Group listed Libya as possessing KMGU dispensers (which deploy submunitions) and RBK-500 cluster bombs.
Spain confirmed transferring 1,055 MAT-120 cluster munitions containing 22,155 submunitions to Libya in 2006 and 2008.
Cluster Munition Monitor has not been able to independently verify and confirm recent evidence of possible cluster munition use in Libya, due in large part to a lack of independent media and local reporting from inside the country.
Evidence collected by an aviation-focused blogger indicates that the LNA forces are continuing to mount cluster munitions on its aircraft that it uses to conduct air attacks on opposition forces. A photograph published by the blogger in June 2018 shows a Soviet/Russian RBK-250–270 PTAB 2.5M cluster bomb mounted on a MiG-23 aircraft that reportedly flew sorties to southern Sebha. This is the only evidence of possible use in the first half of 2018.
There were three sightings of cluster munitions affixed to Libyan aircraft in 2017, all in the first half of the year:
- A photograph reportedly taken on 4 February 2017 at Benina airbase shows at least seven RBK-series PTAB-2.5M and AO-1SCh cluster bombs lying on the tarmac. The “bombing location” is listed as “Benghazi-al-Sabri.”
- Video and photographs reported taken on 3 March 2017 show a RBK-250 PTAB-2.5M being mounted on an MiG-23 aircraft of the LNA/Air Force. Reportedly this aircraft then flew sorties to south of Nofaliya and in the Jufrah area.
- Two videos reportedly taken at Benina airbase on 3 March 2017 show LNA technicians mounting two RBK-250 cluster bombs on two LNA aircraft that then allegedly flew sorties to Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Sidra.
The forces of Khalifa Hiftar receive air support from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which both possess cluster munitions and have not acceded to the ban convention. In November 2017, the Egyptian Army released a video of a possible cluster munition attack by the Egyptian Air Force on a convoy of trucks in Libya.
Previous use in 2014–2015
Previously, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented the LNA use of cluster bombs in Bin Jawad on or about 9 January 2015, again on 18 December 2014, and in Sirte in December 2014 or the first quarter of 2015. The Libyan Air Force admitted attacking Libya Dawn forces at both locations in early 2015, but at the time Brig. Gen. Saqr al-Jerroushi denied that forces under his command used cluster bombs.
More than two-dozen states have expressed concern over or condemned new use of cluster munitions, including eight that specifically expressed concern over the evidence of new cluster munition use in Libya. The UN, ICRC, and Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) also condemned the use of cluster munitions. In March 2015, Sweden described evidence of new use of cluster munitions in Libya as a “worrisome development” and said, “Libya must join the CCM [Convention on Cluster Munitions].”
In September 2016, States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions issued a joint declaration stating that they “condemn any use by any actor” and expressing deep concern at “any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions.” Previously, in September 2015, States Parties adopted the Dubrovnik Declaration, which affirms: “We are deeply concerned by any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions, including in Cambodia, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine and Yemen. We condemn any use of cluster munitions by any actor.”
Previous use in 2011
Government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi used three different types of cluster munitions at various locations during the 2011 conflict: MAT-120 cluster munition mortar projectiles in Misrata in April, RBK-250 PTAB-2.5M cluster bombs in Ajdabiya in March, and DPICM-like submunitions delivered by 122mm cargo rockets in the Nafusa Mountains near Jadu and Zintan on an unknown date. At least 10 states and the European Union expressed concern over or condemned the use of cluster munitions in Libya in 2011.
There is no evidence of cluster munition use by the countries involved in the NATO military action in in Libya in 2011, including by the United States (US) and other states that have not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In its formal response to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, NATO confirmed that it did not use cluster munitions in the Libya operation. However, NATO airstrikes on ammunition storage facilities created hazards when munitions stored by Libya, including cluster munitions, were ejected into the surrounding environment.
Previous use before 2010
Libyan forces used air-delivered cluster munitions, likely RBK-series cluster bombs containing AO-1SCh and PTAB-2.5 submunitions, at various locations during its intervention in Chad during the 1986–1987 conflict.
US Navy aircraft attacked Libyan ships using Mk.-20 Rockeye cluster bombs on 25 March 1986, while US Navy aircraft dropped 60 Rockeye bombs on Benina airfield on 14–15 April 1986.
In November 2009, a commercial oil company survey crew in Libya found remnants of a German World War II-era SD-2 “butterfly bomb” (an early version of a cluster bomb) and an explosive ordnance disposal expert subsequently identified six more such cluster munition remnants.
 In October 2014, Libya informed a UN meeting that it is considering joining international treaties on conventional weapons but did not specifically mention the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Statement of Libya, UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 October 2014.
 Statement of Libya, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 12 September 2012. Notes by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).
 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 (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 220–221.
 Libya participated as an observer in convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016 as well as the First Review Conference in 2015. It has attended regional workshops on cluster munitions, most recently in Lomé, Togo in May 2013.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.
 “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 71/203, 19 December 2016.Libya voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2015. Libya was absent from the vote on a similar resolution in 2017.
 Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 842.
 The transfer took place before Spain instituted a moratorium on export of cluster munitions and prior to its adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Statement of Spain, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 29 June 2011. In the statement, Spain confirmed information provided to The New York Times by the Deputy Director General for Foreign Trade of Defense Materials and Dual Use Goods, Ramon Muro Martinez, that: “One license to Lybia [sic] consisting of 5 cluster munitions for demonstration was issued in August 2006. The export took place in October 2006. There were two more licenses issued in December 2007 with a total amount of 1,050 cluster munitions. They were sent in March 2008.” C.J. Chivers, “Following Up, Part 2. Down the Rabbit Hole: Arms Exports and Qaddafi’s Cluster Bombs,” The New York Times – At War Blog, 22 June 2011.
 Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “#Libya - #LNA MiG-23UB '8008' loaded with RBK-250–270 cluster bomb seen at Brak al-Shati before taking off to strike Chadian militias southern #Sebha,” 6 June 2018, Tweet.
 Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “Video – LNA tech. loading bombs (including RBK-250 cluster bombs) on MiG-23UB ‘8008’ before striking #Benghazi Defense Brigade this morning,” 3 March 2017, Tweet; and Arnaud Delalande (@Arn_Del), “Video - LNA still used cluster bombs against SDB : MiG-23BN '4136' loaded with 2 RBK-250 at Benina AB this afternoon #Libya,” 3 March 2017, Tweet.
 Arnaud Delalande, “All Bets Are Off as a Surprise Offensive Roils the Libyan War,” War is Boring, 6 March 2017.
 The Egyptian Army Facebook posted the videothat claims to show the destruction by the Egyptian Air Force of a 10-vehicle convoy en route from Libya to Egypt. The post alleges that the vehicles contained arms, ammunition, contraband, and insurgents, all of which it claims were totally destroyed in the attack.
 Amnesty International, “Libya: Mounting evidence of war crimes in the wake of Egypt’s airstrikes,” 23 February 2015. HRW found that the good condition of the paint on the bomb casings and lack of extensive weathering indicated that the remnants had not been exposed to the environment for long and were from a recent attack. See, HRW, “Libya: Evidence of New Cluster Bomb Use,” 15 March 2015.
 Including Austria, Burundi, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand.
 See the political declaration annexed to the “Final report of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5–7 September 2016,” CCM/MSP/2016/9, 30 September 2016.
 “The Dubrovnik declaration 2015: Spectemur agendo (judged by our actions),” annexed to the Final Report of the First Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CONF/2015/7, 13 October 2015.
 See, ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Libya: Cluster Munition Ban Policy,” 17 December 2012.
 The Monitor has recorded national statements by Australia, Austria, Burundi, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Iceland, Italy, Lao PDR, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
 NATO letter to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, 15 February 2011. Cited in UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya,” A /HRC/19/68, 2 March 2012, p. 168, para. 638.
 Submunitions were also ejected from ammunition storage bunkers at a military depot near the town of Mizdah, 160 kilometers south of Tripoli, which was attacked by NATO aircraft more than 50 times between April and July 2011. In March 2012, HRW visited the depot and found approximately 15 PTAB-2.5M bomblets and about three-dozen submunitions of an unidentified DPICM type. Statement by HRW, Convention on Conventional Weapons Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, Geneva, 25 April 2012.
 Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 48.
 Daniel P. Bolger, Americans at War: 1975–1986, An Era of Violent Peace (Novato, CA.: Presidio Press, 1988), p. 423.
 Daily report by Jan-Ole Robertz, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technical Advisor, Countermine Libya, 27 November 2009.