What Is Law?


Law is a set of rules governing the conduct of individuals and the conduct of social and governmental institutions. It is sometimes referred to as the science of justice or the art of justice. In common law jurisdictions, laws are made by a group of legislators or by an individual legislator, but private parties can also create their own legal documents, such as contracts or arbitration agreements.

Principles of the Rule of Law

Principles of the Rule of Law refer to the principles which govern society, and include those that govern individual behavior and the behaviour of private actors. They include public accountability of governments and private actors, clear and publicly available laws and rules, and laws that protect the fundamental rights and the security of persons.

Its formal aspects

Law’s formal aspects involve the rules of the legal system and the way in which these rules apply to different types of situations. They include issues such as justice, censorship, crime and punishment, police, and social restrictions. They also include the different legal systems in various countries, including English common law, Chinese law, Egyptian law, and European law. Other legal systems include Roman, Germanic, Scottish, Soviet, and Welsh law.

Its procedural aspects

Law has two important aspects: the substantive and the procedural. The substantive aspect deals with what a law can and cannot do, as well as its intent. The procedural aspect, on the other hand, relates to how a law operates and how it affects people in practice. These two aspects interact with each other to influence how the law works.

Its substantive values

Law’s substantive values are the underlying principles that underlie legal proceedings. They include the rights of property and individual liberty. In the early stages of legal development, these rights were not well defined. Consequently, there was a need to create a standard of review and to define the parameters that each right should meet. For example, a person’s right to privacy could refer to the right to private spaces in the physical world or to the autonomy to make private decisions.

Its institutional character

The institutional character of law can be viewed in several ways. It may be seen as an epistemologically accessible body of norms that the public can study, internalize, and use as a framework for their lives. Alternatively, it may be seen as an institution of public power, with an important role in the settlement of disputes and protection of people from abuses of power. In either case, there is a need for the independence of the judiciary and for the integrity of legal procedures.

Its value to nation-building

The role of law in nation-building is a key element of post-conflict peacebuilding. In addition to economic development, nation-building requires institutions that protect human rights and provide for the rule of law. The value of these institutions cannot be underestimated, regardless of the stage of development in a country. These institutions have global legitimacy and are an important component of any national reconstruction effort. They help achieve greater regional reconciliation and transformation.