Emma Hazeltine


Accidental or unintended detonation of nuclear weapons is a virtually unregulated area of international law. Although the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Non- Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons seek to manage the risks of intentional nuclear use, these Treaties are silent on how the international community would assign legal liability for inadvertent detonations. This Note seeks to address this question by surveying and discussing how existing mechanisms of international and US domestic law could fill this legal void. Specifically, it analyzes the relevancy, benefits, and drawbacks of applying: international criminal law; international human rights law; the Rule of Precaution; the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the American tort claims of civil negligence, res ipsa loquitur, the abnormally dangerous activities doctrine, and products liability; data security law; and criminal negligence. This Note ultimately proposes three practical recommendations as to how the international community can work together to determine which legal framework best addresses accidental or unintended use of nuclear weapons and implement the most worthwhile policies and procedures to address the risk.