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By the mid-twentieth century, however, this account had lost its influence among working legal philosophers.Its emphasis on legislative institutions was replaced by a focus on law-applying institutions such as courts, and its insistence of the role of coercive force gave way to theories emphasizing the systematic and normative character of law. Hart (1907-92) and Joseph Raz among whom there are clear lines of influence, but also important contrasts.
Secondly, natural laws are universal as opposed to positive laws which are only applicable to a geographically defined political territory such as that controlled by a government.
The Greeks, and many subsequent thinkers, made the point that if conventional laws were grounded in natural law then rather than being mutable and arbitrary, they would be fair and just.
One sign of a law being "natural" is that it is universal rather than limited to one specific culture.
It has antecedents in ancient political philosophy and is discussed, and the term itself introduced, in mediaeval legal and political thought (see Finnis 1996).
The modern doctrine, however, owes little to these forbears.