Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021


Non-signatory Morocco adopted the convention in 2008, but says it cannot join due to its long-standing dispute over Western Sahara. Morocco hasparticipated in the convention’s meetings, most recently in November 2020. It abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

Morocco says it has never produced or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and used cluster munitions against the Polisario Front in the past. Morocco possesses a stockpile of cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the quantities and types.


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

Morocco has often stated that the situation in Western Sahara currently prevents it from joining the convention.[1] In an April 2020 letter, Morocco acknowledged the convention’s humanitarian rationale and said it voluntarily complies with key provisions, but cannot accede to the convention until its 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 attended all of the convention’s meetings as an observer, most recently the Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.[4]

In December 2020, 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.”[5] Morocco has not explained why it has abstained from the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Morocco has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[6] Previously, at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in April 2020, Morocco co-sponsored resolutions that condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[7]

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

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

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

Morocco imported cluster munition and possesses stocks, but has never shared information on the types and quantities stockpiled. Morocco 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 also acquired 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 they include versions with submunition payloads.[11]


Moroccan forces used artillery-fired and air-dropped cluster munitions between 1975 and 1988, against the Polisario Front in the disputed territory of 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]

Western Sahara is 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.


[1] Letter from the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, to Hector Guerra, Director, ICBL-CMC, 21 April 2020.

[2] For example, in 2011, an official expressed Morocco’s support for the humanitarian principles of the convention, but said 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” (“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 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] Morocco participated as an observer in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention in 2010–2014 and 2016–2019. It also attended the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015 and intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Morocco voted in favor of similar resolutions from 2013–2019.

[7]The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” HRC Resolution 43/L.33, 20 April 2020. “The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 41/L.25, 8 July 2019; “The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” HRC Resolution 42/L.22, 24 September 2019; and “The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” HRC Resolution 40/L.7, 22 March 2019.

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

[9] United States (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, 19 April 2007.