Essentially, law is a set of rules that are enforceable by social institutions. These institutions are often governmental, but may also be private. Law is a set of rules that can cover anything from money and debt to housing and family problems. It is also a set of rules that may be used to settle international disputes.
Law is often described as a science. Historically, utilitarian theories dominated the law until the 20th century. But the concept of “natural law” emerged in ancient Greek philosophy, and the writings of Thomas Aquinas re-entered mainstream culture.
Common law is a legal system that explicitly acknowledges that court decisions are “law.” It also has some features of civil law, such as legal syllogism, and doctrine of precedent.
The International Court of Justice is the primary dispute settlement body of the United Nations. It was founded in 1946, and has issued numerous judgments and advisory opinions.
The United Nations legal work has covered many areas, including the protection of the environment, human rights, and combating terrorism. The Organization continues its legal work by promoting progressive development of international law. It has taken the lead in developing international humanitarian law, and has taken a leading role in efforts to protect civilians in armed conflict.
The International Law Commission is a body of 34 members from the principal legal systems of the world. The Commission prepares drafts on various aspects of international law, and consults with UN specialized agencies. The Commission promotes codification of international law.