What Is Law?


Whether referring to a contract or a statute, law is a set of rules enforceable by governmental institutions. These rules can be created by the government or by a private individual. Law is an essential part of people’s access to justice. Law also shapes the world we live in and the history we create.

The definition of law is a subject of controversy. Some have described it as an art, while others consider it to be a science. Both views have led to a debate on the extent to which law is moral or immoral.

The term “law” is commonly used to refer to the rules of a particular society. Legal systems are classified into civil law, common law, and modern law. Common law systems are those that explicitly acknowledge the decisions of a court as law. Common law systems also feature the doctrine of precedent, which states that a court’s decisions are binding on future cases.

There are also legal systems that are based on religious beliefs. These include Islamic Sharia, Jewish Halakha, and Christian canon law. Unlike common law, religious law explicitly relies on religious precepts to impose further law. It also uses consensus and interpretation of the Quran to create further law.

The United Nations has pioneered the use of law to resolve problems with an international dimension. For example, it has developed laws to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as human rights law. The United Nations has also worked to protect the environment. In addition, the Organization’s Charter calls on the Organization to promote progressive development of international law. The International Law Commission was established by the General Assembly in 1947. Its members are representatives from the world’s leading legal systems. They serve as experts in their individual capacities, consulting with specialized UN agencies as well as addressing issues of international law.

In modern systems, the practice of law is typically overseen by an independent regulating body. A modern lawyer is required to have a Bachelor of Laws or Master of Legal Studies, as well as pass a qualifying examination.

Law also shapes the politics and economics of society. Laws regulate industries such as energy and telecomms, as well as provide public services. The United States’ federal regulation traces its roots back to anti-cartel statutes of the turn of the 20th century. Several laws address overt characteristics such as sexual orientation and race. In addition, there are many multilateral treaties that are adopted by the General Assembly.

Law also regulates the right to travel, including the right to live and work in a particular country. It also concerns rights to social insurance and money. Various legal issues also involve the right to asylum.

The United Nations has also negotiated many multilateral treaties, which are then open for signature and ratification by governments. Some multilateral treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol, are based on potential dangers posed by climate change. Other treaties are deposited with the government of each country.