What Is Law?


Often described as an art or science, law is a system of rules that regulates behavior. It is enforceable through social institutions and governmental institutions. Those who practice law must usually have a degree from a university or law school.

There are three main areas of law: civil law, commercial law, and religious law. The former covers the laws of the land, including the property of land and other movable objects; commercial law deals with the law of contracts and other business agreements; and religious law deals with the laws of religion.

The International Law Commission (ILC) was established by the General Assembly in 1947. It prepares drafts of aspects of international law, consults with UN specialized agencies, and advocates for a progressive development of international law. The ILC is made up of 34 members, representing the world’s major legal systems.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary United Nations dispute settlement organ. It has issued advisory opinions and judgments in over 170 cases. It has referred six cases to special chambers.

The United Nations Charter calls on the Organization to promote progressive development of international law. The organization also has the responsibility to facilitate settlement of international disputes. It receives more than 500 multilateral treaties. In addition, the General Assembly is composed of representatives from every UN Member State.

The legal theory of the past concentrated on the attributes of law and the normative limits on the use of force by coercive power. Utilitarian theories were dominant until the 20th century.

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