have been modified as a result. That is not to say that the system is without weakness. In particular it relies to a large extent on the government department concerned to identify the possible human rights problem and ask for advice. Sometimes problems arise while a Bill is before Parliament, even at a very late stage.
Abroad, the Covenant is frequently referred to when assessing whether a given state's behaviour is in conformity with its obligations or international standards more generally. All the United Kingdom's posts abroad have been sent guidelines on human rights which contain frequent reference to the Covenant.84 It is not so unusual to see posts reporting on the human rights situation in a country and suggesting that provisions of the Covenant are being violated.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office runs regular human rights training courses for its staff at all levels, which includes input on human rights policy, international law and the role of non-government organizations (NGOs). In 1992, a new unit was created in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which is now called the Human Rights Policy Department.85 Among its purposes are ensuring consistency of application by FCO departments and posts overseas of human rights policy. Both these developments are responses to the increased profile of human rights in foreign policy generally, including the content of the Covenant.
Notwithstanding its conservative attitude to the drafting of the Covenant, the United Kingdom has played an important role in the success of the Covenant in practice. It takes its obligations seriously, but the Covenant has yet to make a marked impact on the consciousness of the British public or on much of the government. Knowledge of the European Convention on Human Rights has spread as a result of the acceptance of the right of individual petition. No doubt the same process would occur in the case of the Covenant. Some further progress in obtaining recognition for the Covenant would also flow from increased judicial reference to it. The European Convention on Human Rights is experiencing a remarkable incidence of judicial reference, notwithstanding the limits of the decision of the House of Lords in the Brind case.86 By contrast, reference to the____________________