T he article analyses peacebuild ing theories and m ethods, as applied to justice system reform in post-conflict scenarios. In th is respect, the in te rn atio n al au thorities involved in the recon­ struc tion process m ay trad itio n a lly choose betw een either a dirigiste o r a consent-based approach , representing the essential term s o f reference of past in terventions. H ow ever, fea­ tures com m on to m ost reconstruc tion m issions, and relatively p o o r results, confirm the need for a change in the overall strategy. This requires in te rn atio n al donors to focus m ore on the ‘dem and for justice’ a t local levels th an on the trad itio n a l supply of financial and technical aid for reform s. T he article stresses the need for effectively p rom oting the ‘local ow nersh ip ’ of the reform process, w ith o u t this expression being m erely used by in te rn atio n al actors as a political um brella under w hich to p ro tec t them selves from po ten tia l failures.