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Major Brian Watters elected to the International Narcotics Control Board.

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I warmly congratulate Major Brian Watters AO on his successful election to the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in New York on 4 May.

Major Watters recorded an outstanding victory, receiving the greatest number of votes in a tightly contested field of 18 candidates. This tremendous result reflects the high international regard in which both Major Watters and the Australian Government are held in the field of drugs policy.

Major Watters is a leading and influential figure in the field of narcotics control, with almost 30 years experience as both a policy advisor to governments and a drug treatment practitioner. In 1998 Major Watters was appointed Chair of the Australian National Council on Drugs, the peak drugs advisory body of the Australian Government. Major Watters was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003 for outstanding services to the Australian community in the field of drugs policy development and the provision of drug treatment.

With the help of people such as Major Watters and other members of the Australian National Council on Drugs, Australia has achieved a 23 per cent reduction in the proportion of people using illicit drugs in the three years to 2001, and a 67 per cent drop since 1999 in heroin-related deaths for people aged between 15 and 55 years.

Australia’s major role in reducing drug supply in the Asia-Pacific region has been recognised by the International Narcotics Control Board in recent publications, which have also praised the work of the Australian Federal Police in assisting other countries in our region.

The INCB is composed of 13 independent experts in the field of narcotics control. It is elected by the 54 members of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is responsible for promoting compliance with international drug control treaties as well as monitoring the use of narcotics and psychotropic substances for research purposes. Major Watters will serve a five year term on the Board, commencing in March 2005.

6 May 2004