Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Morocco adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, but says it cannot accede to it until its long-standing dispute over Western Sahara is resolved. Morocco hasparticipated in meetings of the convention, most recently in May 2022. It abstained from voting on a key annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Morocco says it has never produced or exported cluster munitions, but has imported them and possesses a stockpile. Morocco used cluster munitions against the Polisario Front in the past.


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

Morocco has repeatedly stated that the situation in Western Sahara prevents it from joining the convention.[1] In April 2020, Morocco acknowledged the convention’s humanitarian rationale and said that 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 participated in intersessional meetings of the convention in May 2022, but did not attend the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022.[4] Morocco has participated as an observer at all previous meetings of the convention.

In December 2022, Morocco abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution that urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[5] Morocco has not explained why it has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Morocco has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning use of cluster munitions in Syria.[6]

Morocco is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It 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.[7]

Morocco has imported cluster munitions 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.[8]

Morocco also acquired 12 300mm PHL-03 multi-barrel rocket launchers from China in 2009–2010.[9] It possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known whether they include versions with submunition payloads.[10]


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.[11] The RMAF attacked the Bu-Crag area with US-supplied cluster bombs in March 1982.[12]

Western Sahara is contaminated by cluster munition remnants, 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.[13] 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 United Nations (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.” 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 at 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 in September 2015, and intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.

[5]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 77/230, 15 December 2022. Morocco voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions on Syria from 2013–2021.

[7] “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.

[8] Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), US 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.

[9] This weapon is a copy of the Russian-made 300mm Smerch rocket launcher, and its rockets include types containing explosive submunitions, but it is not known what types of rockets were acquired. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “Arms Transfers Database,” Recipient report for Morocco for the period 2009–2016, generated on 7 July 2017.

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

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

[12] Lt.-Col. David Dean, “The Air Force Role in Low-Intensity Conflict,” Air University Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education, US Air Force, 1986, p. 70.

[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 Humanity & Inclusion (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, United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), 19 April 2007.