Roman law comprises not only the legal order that took place throughout Rome’s history, but also the ideas and experiences that emerged from the time of the city’s foundation until the disintegration of the Empire after Justinian’s death.
The importance of human rights
One of the main characteristics of the expansion of the Roman Empire throughout the West and part of the East is that it was not limited to a simple territorial conquest, there was a colonization process that imposed its uses and customs on all the inhabitants of the empire. In this work of “Romanization”, law played a fundamental role, being decisive when establishing the norms that governed human relations in that society . In addition, Roman law was of great importance when it came to giving new concepts to those that did not previously exist in these communities, presenting authority and freedom not as opposite terms, but as complementary terms.
In this way, the study of human rights was decisive in understanding the evolution of the European mentality, providing a series of tools that are still useful for modern jurists today. Even so, on certain occasions, current jurists rely on Roman sources and their methodology as the solution to reach a perfect interpretation of the current norm.
Fundamental precepts of Roman law
Ulpian, an important Roman jurist, summed up in three the concepts by which Roman society and consequently its laws should be governed: not harming anyone, living honestly and giving each one what he deserves.
So when in Roman law it says that no one should be harmed, it means that the laws must protect people and property, establishing sufficient mechanisms to avoid possible harm. What concerns living honestly refers to the importance of Roman law as a vehicle for guaranteeing honesty and good customs, establishing the appropriate sanctions for all those who behaved contrary to “Honestae Vivere”.
Finally, Ulpian’s third precept, starts from the idea that everything that is fulfilled according to the law corresponds to each one. In other words, the intention of justice must not be limited only to respecting the laws, but also must be able to establish which prerogatives correspond to each member of the community.