Morocco

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.

Policy

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]

Use

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.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The Kingdom of Morocco has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Officials from Morocco have repeatedly stated that the dispute over Western Sahara is the only obstacle preventing Morocco from acceding.[1] At the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings in 2019, Morocco stated it is committed “to the convention and its humanitarian principles” of the treaty, and has been voluntarily active in its obligations to clear minefields and destroy stockpiles.[2]

On 5 December 2018, Morocco voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 73/61 calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as in previous years.[3]

Morocco regularly submits voluntary Article 7 reports, including in 2019.[4] Morocco also regularly attends Meetings of States Parties, most recently the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018 and the intersessional meetings in Geneva in May 2019.

Morocco is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. Morocco is not party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war, nor is it party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Use, stockpiling, production, transfer, and retention

Morocco reiterated at the Meeting of States Parties in 2018 that it has never produced or transferred antipersonnel mines.[5]

Morocco has acknowledged extensive use of mines in the past, most notably at the berms (defensive earthen walls) it built from 1982 to 1987 to secure the northwest corner of Western Sahara. There have been no confirmed instances of mine use since that time.[6]

In May 2009, in response to a Monitor questionnaire, “Does Morocco reserve the right to use antipersonnel mines in the future?” Morocco replied, “Non.”[7] Morocco also stated that it stopped the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines in 1987 and that it has never produced antipersonnel mines.[8]

In May 2009, Morocco told States Parties that it still possesses antipersonnel mines that are used for training its army for participation in peacekeeping operations.[9] Its Article 7 report submitted in March 2017 does not provide the number of mines retained.[10]



[1] Interview with Gen. Ben Elias, Royal Moroccan Army, and the two generals heading the second and third military zones, Agadir, 27 October 2008; interview with Nasser Bourita, Director, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rabat, 29 October 2008; and Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN, “Response to Questions from the Canadian NGO Mines Action Canada,” 18 May 2009.

[2] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 24 May 2019.

[3] “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” UNGA Resolution 73/61, 5 December 2018.

[4] Morocco has previously submitted reports in 2006, 2008–2011, 2013, and 2015–2019.

[5] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva,26 November 2018.

[6] The government of Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguía el Hamra and Río de Oro (Polisario) have periodically traded accusations of new mine use, but both have denied it. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2009, p. 1,023.

[7] Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN, “Response to Questions from the Canadian NGO Mines Action Canada,” 18 May 2009.

[8] Ibid. It also stated this in, statement of Morocco, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 25 May 2009. In July 2006, Morocco told Landmine Monitor that it stopped using antipersonnel mines at the time of the Western Sahara cease-fire in 1991, and that it no longer stockpiled antipersonnel mines, except for training purposes. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Morocco, July 2006.

[9] Statement of Morocco, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 25 May 2009. Morocco also said it only kept mines for training in 2006 and 2007. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Morocco, July 2006; and statement of Morocco, Addressing the Human Costs of Anti-personnel Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War, Seminar for States of the Maghreb, Tunis, Tunisia, 9–10 September 2007.

[10] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 20 March 2017.


Mine Action

Last updated: 15 November 2018

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

Non-signatory

Mine action management

National mine action management actors

No national mine action authority or center

Mine action strategic plan

None

Mine action standards

No national standards, but Morocco reported that “normal safety and environmental protection standard have been followed”

Operators in 2017

Royal Moroccan Army (RMA)

Extent of contamination as of end 2017

Landmines

Extent unknown

Cluster munition remnants

None

Other ERW contamination

Extent unknown

Land release in 2017

Landmines

232km2 with the destruction of 69 antipersonnel mines and 82 antivehicle mines

Other ERW

595 items of ERW

Progress

Mines/ERW

Morocco received humanitarian demining training in 2017

Morocco has not reported with any detail on its release of mined areas in recent years

Note: ERW = explosive remnants of war.

 

Contamination

The exact extent of contamination of the area of Western Sahara controlled by the Kingdom of Morocco, on the west side of the Berm,[1] is not known. In the past, Morocco declared, highly improbably, that a total of 120,000km² of area was contaminated,[2] although the threat is undoubtedly significant.

Morocco’s contamination is a result of the conflict between the RMA and Polisario Front forces over Western Sahara. Morocco has reported having registered and mapped the minefields it has laid, and has pledged to clear them as soon as the conflict over Western Sahara is over.[3]

In April 2013, Morocco had identified 10 areas as having been mined by the Polisario Front since 1975: Bir Anzarane, Douiek, Gerret Auchfaght, Gor Lbard, Gor Zalagat, Hagounia, Idiriya, Imlili, Itgui, and Tarf Mhkinza.[4] It repeated this list in a voluntary Article 7 report it submitted for calendar year 2017.[5] From 2015, the area of Glibat Jadiane, which had been listed as contaminated in earlier years, was no longer included on the list of mined areas.[6]

Program Management

Morocco does not have a national mine action authority or a mine action center.

Legislation and standards

Morocco has not adopted national mine action legislation or standards, but reported, most recently in 2013, that “normal safety and environmental protection standard have been followed.”[7]

Operators

Morocco initiated major demining efforts in 2007, following an increase in the number of incidents. All mine clearance in Morocco is conducted manually by the RMA. In 2017, it reported that 16 demining modules and 89 demining detachments were operational and responded to 175 interventions during the year.[8]

In March 2016, it was reported that United States (US) Marines were providing training to build the demining capacity of the RMA. US instructors covered ordnance identification, safety, basic demolition, and basic combat casualty care.[9] In a voluntary Article 7 report for 2017, Morocco reported receiving humanitarian demining training from the National Guard of the US State of Utah and that six senior government officials, including from the Ministries of Health and Solidarity, the Royal Armed Forces, and the Moroccan Red Crescent visited the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC).[10] The Utah National Guard previously reported providing landmine clearance training to Moroccan military officials through the State Partnership Program in April 2015.[11]

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has been coordinating mine action activities with both parties to the conflict. In March 2016, however, Morocco required that MINURSO international civilian personnel “leave the Kingdom of Morocco within three days.”[12] This included all international staff overseeing the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS)-managed demining project within MINURSO, resulting in the suspension of all demining activities east of the berm from 20 March 2016–15 September 2016, when the MINURSO Mine Action Coordination Center resumed its operations from Tindouf, where it had been relocated.[13] Morocco demanded the staff leave because UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had used the term “occupation” to describe the situation east of the Berm during a visit to the region.[14]

Land Release

Morocco has not reported with any detail on its release of mined areas in recent years. In a voluntary Article 7 report for 2017, Morocco reported release of 232km2, with the destruction of 69 antipersonnel mines, 82 antivehicle mines, and 595 items of ERW.[15] This is an apparent decrease from 2016, when Morocco reported release of 283km2 with the destruction of 288 antipersonnel mines, 170 antivehicle mines, and 1,899 ERW.[16]

Morocco reported that since demining efforts began and as of end March 2018, a total of 96,451 mines, including 49,087 antipersonnel mines, and a further 19,618 items of ERW had been destroyed during “release” of 5,127km2.[17] It also reported that, as at November 2017, a total of 4,987km2 over the previous decade with the destruction of 4,833 antipersonnel mines and 16,813 antivehicle mines.[18]

In his 2018 report to the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General noted that the RMA had reported “clearing” nearly 145km2 of land to the west of the Berm with the destruction of 1,121 items, including 1,008 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO), as well as 57 antivehicle and 56 antipersonnel mines during the period 10 April 2017 to 29 March 2018.[19] No further details were provided.

In April 2016, Morocco was planning to launch a new effort to clear mines from the Berm that divides Western Sahara into the Moroccan-controlled area and the Polisario-controlled area. The units to be deployed were reportedly those trained by the US Marines.[20]

 

The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (www.mineactionreview.org), which has conducted the primary mine action research in 2018 and shared all its country-level landmine reports (from “Clearing the Mines 2018”) and country-level cluster munition reports (from “Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”) with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.



[1] The Berm refers to the defensive wall built by Morocco in 1982–1987 to secure the northwestern corner of Western Sahara. It is constituted of earthen walls some three meters in height. Morocco controls the area located on the west side of the Berm.

[2] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 25 May 2009.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2014), Form C.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report, April 2013, Form C.

[5] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form C.

[6] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report, April 2011, Form C.

[7] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report, (for calendar year 2017), Form D.

[8] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty 16th Meeting of States Parties, Vienna, 21 December 2017.

[9]U.S., Morocco improve demining capability,” The Globe, 31 March 2016.

[10] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (form calendar year 2017), Form H.

[11] Stf. Sgt. Annie Edwards, “Moroccan state partners observe Utah Guard landmine removal training,” Official US Air Force Website, 16 April 2015.

[12] “Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara,” UN doc. S/2016/355, 19 April 2016, para. 4.

[13] “Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara,” UN doc. S/2017/307, 10 April 2017, para. 40.

[15] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form C.

[16] Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form C.

[17] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 June 2018.

[18] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty 16th Meeting of States Parties, Vienna, 21 December 2017.

[19] “Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara,” UN doc. S/2018/277, 29 March 2018, para. 43.


Support for Mine Action

New information will be added soon.


Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 21 October 2018

No new mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties were recorded for the Kingdom of Morocco in 2017.

Previously, in 2015, 14 antivehicle mine casualties were identified by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute (SIPRI) antivehicle mines project.[1] 

For 2017, Morocco reported 19 mine/ERW casualties.[2] No information was provided as to whether these casualties occurred in Morocco or in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. However, the Monitor has reported 19 casualties recorded in the area of Morocco-controlled Western Sahara, west of the berm. Therefore, these casualties have not been included in the global casualty data for Morocco. (See the Western Sahara casualty profile for 2018.)

The total number of mine/ERW casualties in Morocco is not known. For the period between 1975 to the end of 2017 Morocco reported a total of 2,652 mine/ERW casualties (848 persons killed; 1,804 injured) in various voluntary Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reporting.



[1] Casualty data provided by email from Ursign Hofmann, Policy Advisor, GICHD, 11 July 2016. See also, GICHD-SIPRI, “Anti-Vehicle Mine Incidents Map,” undated.

[2] Morocco reported 2,536 mine/ERW casualties (831 persons killed; 1,705 injured) in its voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2012), Form I. It reported 116 mine/ERW casualties (17 killed; 99 injured) between 2013 and 2017 in its voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2017), Form I.