Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory Morocco acknowledges the harm caused by cluster munitions and adopted the convention in 2008, but has not taken any steps to accede due to the long-standing dispute over Western Sahara. Morocco hasparticipated in many of the convention’s meetings, most recently in September 2017. It however abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2017.

Morocco says it has never produced or exported cluster munitions. It imported cluster munitions, but has not provided information on the quantities and types stockpiled. In the past, Morocco used cluster munitions against the Polisario Front.


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

Morocco acknowledges the convention’s humanitarian rationale and says it complies with key provisions.

Morocco participated as an observer in the convention’s Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017, where its delegate told the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) that Morocco continues to de facto apply the convention’s provisions and principles, but its position regarding accession to the convention has not changed.[1] Morocco has consistently stated that it cannot accede to the convention until the long-standing dispute over Western Sahara is resolved.[2]

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 it.[3]

Morocco has participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention except one, in 2016. It attended the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and intersessional meetings in 2011–2015.

In December 2017, Morocco abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] It also abstained from the previous UNGA resolutions promoting the convention in 2015 and 2016.[5]

Morocco has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2017.[6] It also voted in favor a Human Rights Council resolution condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria in March 2018.[7]

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

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Morocco informed the Monitor in 2011 that it has never produced or exported cluster munitions.[8]

Morocco imported and possesses cluster munitions, but has not provided any information on the current types and quantities stockpiled. It received 2,994 CBU-52, 1,752 CBU-58, 748 CBU-71, and 850 Rockeye cluster bombs containing a combined total of nearly 2.5 million submunitions from the United States (US) between 1970 and 1995.[9]

Morocco acquired a total of 12 300mm PHL-03 multi-barrel rocket launchers from China in 2009–2010.[10] It possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads.[11]


Between 1975 and 1988, Moroccan forces used artillery-fired and air-dropped cluster munitions against the Polisario Front in the disputed Western Sahara. The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) used cluster bombs made in France during attacks on Akka, Guelta Zemmour, Hausa, and Messeid in 1980–1981.[12] The RMAF attacked the Bu-Crag area with US-supplied cluster bombs in March 1982.[13]

In 2006, British NGO Action on Armed Violence reported that Western Sahara was contaminated by the remnants of cluster munitions, including US-made CBU-71 cluster bombs with BLU-63 submunitions and M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles with M42 and M46 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[14] Neighboring Mauritania was also affected by these same types of cluster munitions used by Morocco in Western Sahara.

Other use

Since March 2015, Morocco has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led joint military operation in Yemen against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, which has used cluster munitions. Morocco has not commented on evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen, while a December 2016 statement by the coalition forces did not deny the use of cluster munitions and argued that international law does not ban their use.[15]

[1] CMC interview with Abdellah Boutadghart, Minister Plenipotentiary, in Geneva, 6 September 2017.

[2] In 2011, an official expressed Morocco’s support for the humanitarian principles of the convention, but informed the Monitor that accession to the convention is regarded as “a strategic objective…that will be achieved once security imperatives related to the protection of its southern provinces disappear.” “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.

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

[4] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.

[5] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016; and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[6] “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 72/191, 19 December 2017. Morocco voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2016.

[7] The resolution was adopted by the council. Morocco also co-submitted a previous resolution in 2016. Morocco is not a member of the Human Rights Council. “The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” A/HRC/37/L.38, Human Rights Council, 19 March 2018.

[8] “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.

[9] 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.

[10] This weapon is a copy of the Russian-made 300mm Smerch launcher and its rockets include types containing explosive submunitions, but it is not known what types of rockets were acquired. Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Trade Database search for Morocco, 2009–2016, 7 July 2017.

[11] 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).

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

[13] Ibid., p. 70.

[14] 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.

[15] “International law does not ban the use of cluster munitions. Some States have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor its Coalition partners are State Parties to the 2008 Convention, and accordingly, the Coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these States under international law.” See, “Coalition Forces supporting legitimacy in Yemen confirm that all Coalition countries aren't members to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Saudi Press Agency, 19 December 2016.