Human rights principles are enshrined in treaties and conventions, as well as guidelines and standards based on broad international consultation and consensus. Governments must take measures to protect women from violence, to prosecute acts of violence, and to prevent further acts of violence. If a state fails to act, it is responsible under the international agreements which proclaim women’s human rights. This is the foundation for evaluation of all justice sector mechanisms. Organizations should observe international standards of women’s human rights for engagement with justice sector mechanisms, formal or informal, that cannot be compromised. This baseline dictates that (1) no one should be subject to discrimination on the basis of sex or other status (such as, race/ethnicity, income level, urban or rural residence, sexual orientation, ability, and so forth) by any justice mechanism; and that (2) physical punishments such as beatings or stonings must be prohibited.
In cases of violence against women, another baseline requirement for justice mechanisms is that women’s safety and the safety of their children, as well as perpetrator accountability, must be the primary conditions for interaction with either formal or informal systems of justice. Justice sector reform efforts should focus on continually reminding the state of its responsibility to proactively promote and protect the human rights of women and girls.