What is a Law?

What Does Law Mean

We explain what a law is and what is the purpose of these legal rules. In addition, types of laws, their characteristics and real examples.

Laws are a way to control the behavior of human beings.

What is a law?

A law is a mandatory legal rule or norm issued by the competent authority of a territory . Its purpose is to allow or prohibit any action by individuals in order to regulate human behavior and achieve harmonious coexistence within a society.

They are of a coercive nature, this means that in the event that the laws are not complied with, the public force has the duty and obligation to punish the corresponding person or institution . For this reason, many times individuals must submit to the laws despite not agreeing with them.

See also: Law

Types of laws

First of all, the concept of law can be understood in two ways:

  • Natural law. Set of laws that emanate from nature and govern all spaces of creation, they are irrevocable, eternal and invariable. They were not created by man so they do not respond to the will of people. For example: the Law of Gravity .
  • Positive law . Set of rules established by the competent authority of a territory to guarantee order in a society , must be complied with by all citizens and cannot go against natural laws.

Positive laws are classified based on certain criteria:

According to the mode:

  • Permissive laws. They allow the subject to perform certain actions.
  • Prohibitive laws. They sanction the subject who carries out certain behaviors .

According to the range:

  • Organic laws. They regulate fundamental rights and public freedoms and require a majority in the legislative body to be approved.
  • Ordinary laws. They regulate specific matters that do not affect the foundations of organic laws, so they require a simple minority in the legislative body to be approved.
  • Constitutional laws . They detail or elaborate on any provision of a constitutional nature.

According to the origin or sense:

  • Formal laws. Norms formulated by the legislative branch regardless of their content.
  • Material laws. General and mandatory rules emanating from other competent authorities.

According to the scope of application:

  • Federal laws. They are promulgated and are valid throughout the territory of a nation . Local laws. They are enacted by the legislative body of a province or state and are valid only in that territory.

Characteristics of the laws

  • Mandatory They must be respected and complied with by all citizens who are in the territory in which these laws govern, even when they go against the will of the individual. Lack of knowledge of the law is not an excuse for non-compliance.
  • Impersonal. They are created to be applied to an indeterminate group of subjects and not to a single person.
  • Abstract. They apply in all cases, which implies a number of cases neither established nor particularized.
  • Permanent They are formulated indefinitely and permanently, they only cease to have validity when they are subrogated, abrogated or repealed from subsequent laws.
  • Irretroactive. They regulate events that take place after their sanction, so they do not apply to conduct prior to their appearance.
  • General. They are applicable to all individuals, without exceptions.
  • Coercive. Non-compliance implies the imposition of a penalty or punishment.

What are the laws for?

Laws are fundamental tools to maintain social order within a territory. They establish the attitudes that individuals are expected to have and prohibit those that go against the common good or the rights of citizens.

Laws are enacted in order to protect rights and establish duties and obligations that guarantee the proper development of individuals and society.

All nations or states have their own laws, these are usually written and must be known by all members of the territory in which they govern. Laws promote equality among citizens because everyone must comply with the law equally and no exceptions or distinctions of any kind can be made.

Difference between law and norm

The concept of "law" and "norm" are related, since laws are considered a type of norm.

Norms are the provisions or rules that regulate the conduct of individuals to ensure order and development within a society. There are social , moral , religious and legal norms . Laws are a type of legal norm, as are decrees , regulations, and treaties.

What differentiates legal norms from the rest is that they are mandatory and coercive, that is, all members of society are obliged to comply with them, otherwise they will be sanctioned.

More in: Norma

Examples of laws


  • Law 26.206 - National Education Law
  • Law 27,533 - Law for the comprehensive protection of women.
  • Law 27,490 - Law for the creation of marine protected areas.
  • Law 21.671 - Law prohibiting the cultivation, possession and commercialization of opium, marijuana and coca.
  • Law 26.657 - National Mental Health Law.
  • Law 26,165 - General Law of Recognition and Protection of Refugees.
  • Law 25,577 - Law prohibiting the hunting of cetaceans throughout the national territory.


  • Sustainable rural development law.
  • Law of general import and export taxes.
  • Federal cinematography law.
  • Federal law for the promotion of micro-industry and artisan activity.
  • Federal law to prevent and eliminate discrimination.
  • General law on the rights of children and adolescents.
  • General law to prevent, punish and eradicate crimes related to human trafficking and for the protection and assistance to victims of these crimes.


  • Law 21.105 - Law that encourages the inclusion of people with disabilities in the world of work.
  • Law 21,175 - Law on the promotion of the performing arts.
  • Law 21,100 - Law that prohibits the delivery of commercial plastic bags throughout the national territory.
  • Law 19,451 - Law that establishes norms on transplantation and organ donation.
  • Law 20.501 - Law that guarantees the quality and equity of education.
  • Law 19,680 - Law that prohibits the use and sale of fireworks.
  • Law 19,523 - Law that establishes norms on the protection, promotion and development of indigenous people and creates the national corporation for indigenous development.
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