What use is the rule of law?

Essay by ushnish November 2005

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When the first rules of law were set by Hammurabi, a general acceptance of a set of rules by which society was to live by and adhere to took place. Although utilitarian in its approach, the code of Hammurabi became the basis of almost all codes of law found today. However, the functions and use of a rule of law still lies in question. The use of the rule of law necessarily entails rules, judiciary system and its supporting counterpart ¾ punishment, and these bring both a negative and positive view on the use of the rule of law.

The law is easily accepted as a code of conduct set by a government that represents the people. It not only applies to the citizens of its country but also to anyone who resides or is temporarily based on its land. The purpose of the rule of law is simply to prevent anti-social behavior and social decadence, allowing people to live harmoniously without conflict.

At the same time it protects members of all classes of society and allows limited freedom for the citizens of the country based on its type of government, that is democratic, communist or steeped in religion. Crimes which go against the rule of law are punishable and punishments are meted out based on the severity of the crime.

The functionality of law logically allows order to preside in society. By its rules not only are a country's people protected from harm by oneself or by another, both physically and materially, the environment in which they live in is also protected by both national and international laws, such as the Kyoto Protocol, protecting the environment from pollution and harm. Laws are also laid down to protect animals and wildlife under protected species laws that protect mostly endangered species.