Earth's surface, meteorology, and climate are beyond the scope of this report. It may be noted, however, that 12 new Earth-observing spacecraft are scheduled to be launched in 1997.
This report covers the results of the XXth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), held in Utrecht, the Netherlands, 29 April through 10 May. It also reports on the Legal Experts Meeting on Liability, held in Cambridge, England, 7-11 October. It summarizes developments at the 15th meeting of the Commission and the Scientific Committee established by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), held in Hobart, Tasmania, 21 October through 1 November.
Turkey acceded to the Antarctic Treaty on January 24, making it the 43d party and the 17th non-consultative party. There are 26 consultative parties (ATCPs).
Meeting in Utrecht, the Antarctic Treaty parties focused on issues of liability for damage to the Antarctic environment, tourism, environmental impact assessment, and Antarctic protected areas. The parties spent their first week in informal sessions of the meeting of legal experts to consider liability, and of the interim Transitional Environmental Working Group (TEWG).
The TEWG, which is intended to be a bridge to the activities of the Committee on Environmental Protection, which is to be established upon entry into force of the Protocol on Environmental Protection (Madrid Protocol), considered in particular the progress of the parties in conducting environmental assessments. Prior environmental assessment of proposed activities will become mandatory under the Madrid Protocol. Only six governments reported conducting assessments in the preceding year: Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The parties noted that governments without domestic environmental assessment legislation and well-established procedures did not all have a common understanding of the purpose and effect of environmental assessments. New Zealand agreed to coordinate intersessional work aimed at developing greater mutual understanding of the procedures required by the Protocol.
The fifth meeting of legal experts continued its consideration of a liability annex or annexes to the Madrid Protocol, as called for in Art. 16. The legal