Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 April 2021
I had travelled to Hpa-an, the capital of Myanmar’s eastern Karen state, for a chance to meet with a local lawyer who worked for several of the foreign-funded initiatives of rule of law assistance – defined here as foreign actors’ transnational ‘project’ of supporting legal systems in fragile settings – that were initiated in the country after its political opening in 2011. While usually based in Yangon, the lawyer was in Hpa-an for one of his regular training sessions with local activists and lawyers. On my way to our meeting, I walked through the pitch-black streets of the small town in a country I still did not know much about to meet a person whom I imagined would have little patience with a foreign researcher asking questions about his work. As I walked into the tiny shed of a restaurant where we were meeting, I saw Zaw Win Thein’s dazzling smile, and I felt a sense of instant relief. His personality was inviting and friendly.