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Pip Nicholson and Samantha Hinderling

There is a substantial investment in rule of law globally: in the context of peace building, development and reconstruction. The recipients’ experience of legal sector assistance, however, remains under-explored. With Timor Leste as its focus, this chapter places the local experience of post-conflict rule of law interventions, and specifically court reform, under the microscope. The authors analyse local Timorese narratives around court reform with a critical focus on the United Nation’s assumed paradigm of ownership via ‘adoption’ through post-mission ‘handover’: a paradigm that informed much of Timor Leste’s post-conflict rule of law efforts. This chapter highlights how justice sector interventions that are ill-conceived and unidirectional can have fundamental and unintended consequences.