Handbook on the Rule of Law
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Handbook on the Rule of Law

Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester

The discussion of the norm of the rule of law has broken out of the confines of jurisprudence and is of growing interest to many non-legal researchers. A range of issues are explored in this volume that will help non-specialists with an interest in the rule of law develop a nuanced understanding of its character and political implications. It is explicitly aimed at those who know the rule of law is important and while having little legal background, would like to know more about the norm.
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Chapter 30: Court development in Timor-Leste: ‘Handover’ and its long shadow

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.

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