What Is Law?


Variously described as a science or the art of justice, law is a set of rules that governs social institutions. It also shapes economics, politics, and history. Various legal systems exist worldwide. Law is typically overseen by a government or an independent regulating body. It can also be created by private individuals, through legal contracts or arbitration agreements.

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the main dispute settlement organ of the United Nations. It has issued over 170 judgments and advisory opinions. It is composed of 34 members representing the world’s principal legal systems. The Court also consults with specialized UN agencies and aims to promote the progressive development of international law. It serves as an expert body that prepares drafts on a variety of international law issues and promotes codification of international law.

There are two types of legal systems, civil law and common law. Civil law systems are more concise, requiring fewer judicial decisions. Common law legal systems are more detailed. However, both systems have their share of argumentsative theories.

The common law legal system is a system of judicial decisions and statutes, while the civil law system is a system of legislative statutes. Common law systems include the doctrine of precedent, which means that a court’s decision will bind subsequent decisions made by that court. This system of legal reasoning is generally different from the method of interpreting the law. There are also rules of legal interpretation, including the golden rule and directives of linguistic, teleological, and systemic interpretation.

The main distinction between the common law and civil law legal systems is that the common law system explicitly acknowledges decisions made by the executive branch. In contrast, the executive branch is not always acknowledged in civil law systems.

The United Nations is one of the few international organizations that promotes the progressive development of international law. It has established the International Law Commission, which promotes the codification of international law and addresses issues of international law. The Commission has members representing all of the world’s major legal systems, and serves as an expert body that is independent of government representatives. The Commission also prepares drafts on a variety of issues of international law.

The concept of “natural law” traces back to ancient Greek philosophy. The idea of “natural law” re-emerged in mainstream culture through the writings of Thomas Aquinas. It has been used as a philosophical foundation for the modern concept of legality.

The concept of “natural law” has also influenced the development of religious law. Religious law is specifically based on religious precepts. For example, Jewish Halakha explains the basic code of Jewish law. Christian canon law, however, survives only in the Anglican Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Law also has a political basis, called civil society. Civil society is comprised of social institutions, such as governments, communities, and partnerships. It is a source of further law through interpretation, interpretation through analogy, and consensus.