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During a period of transition after years of mass human rights violations, the root causes of violations are still present, but may be hidden. Unless the root causes are understood and dealt with there is a high likelihood of a recurrence of violence.

Discrimination and inequality can provoke violence that escalates out of control. Discrimination and inequality reflect both a manipulation and a weakening of state institutions whose job it is to protect the rights of citizens. The military and police become agents of the elite who are often directly involved in violations committed with total impunity.

Unfair laws are passed, and corrupted courts lose independence. The media, religious bodies, and educational institutions all become tools not for spreading the truth, but rather distort and manipulate it.

Understanding how women experience discrimination and human rights violations, before and during armed conflict, must inform the institutional reform agenda and process. Civilian oversight and mechanisms for check and balance must be established to ensure that state institutions are transparent and accountable. Ensuring that women are involved in designing and implementing reforms is key to a long-term evolutionary process to strengthen democracy and freedom.