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Javier Vasquez

Senior Advisor

Javier Vasquez is a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in public health, human rights, disability and health-related law.


Javier Vasquez is a lawyer with more than 20 years of experience in public health, human rights, disability and health-related law. Currently he is the “Senior Advisor of the United Nations Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility” and supports UN Special Envoy on international human rights issues in line with the “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. As “Vice-President of Health Programs” with “Special Olympics International” (2016-2019), Mr. Vasquez led all annual planning efforts to strengthen health systems at national, regional and global levels to achieve targets related to access to health care services by persons with intellectual disabilities.He was the Human Rights Advisor/Specialist (2000-2016) for the World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for the Americas known as Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) where he advised Governments in collaboration with PAHO/WHO country offices on strategies to improve access to health systems and the right to the highest attainable standard of health and other related human rights of groups in situation of vulnerability, including older persons. In PAHO/WHO, he also facilitated the formulation/review of national health laws, polices, practices and international treaties such as the “Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons” and the “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”; and the reform of public health services in a manner consistent with international treaties, conventions and standards that protect the right to health and other related human rights.Prior to his work at Special Olympics International and PAHO/WHO, Mr. Vasquez was a “Human Rights Specialist” and recipient of the “Romulo Gallegos Fellowship”, for the “Inter-American Commission on Human Rights” at Organization of American States (Washington D.C. May 1997-May 1998) where he prepared draft reports on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons with disabilities. Mr. Vasquez holds a Master’s Degree in International Law from the “Washington College of Law” (WCL). Mr. Vasquez holds a Master’s Degree in International Law from the “Washington College of Law”, The American University (AU), Washington, D.C. (1996). He is also an Adjunct Associate Faculty of "Global Health Law" at the "Washington College of Law".


Javier Vasquez, VP Health Programs Special Olympics
Ability Magazine

December 05, 2020

Javier Vasquez toils on the front lines of global healthcare policy to ensure athletes with disabilities have access to healthcare. As Vice President of Health Programs for the Special Olympics (SO), he is a lawyer who helped expand the health screenings of athletes during the Games and thereafter, when they return to their home.

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‘The Legacy of These Games Is Huge:’ How Special Olympics Is Prioritizing Health

April 16, 2019

Over 7,000 athletes were offered access to screenings conducted by medical professionals and volunteers at the Special Olympics. “The legacy of these games is huge,” Javier Vasquez, Vice President of Health Programs, Special Olympics, told Re:Set. “It [the Special Olympics] is a great platform to promote health for people of determination.”

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Interview with Javier Vásquez, from Special Olympics
UN News

December 01, 2018

"It is not only competition, but to achieve inclusion, well-being, joy, coexistence" of people with intellectual disabilities and, "of course, their families and coaches," Javier Vásquez tells UN News that this year has acceded to the vice-presidency of the Health Programs of this movement that includes 5.3 million athletes .

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‘Genuine’ health for those living with mental disability, dependent on human rights
UN News

November 28, 2018

When persons living with intellectual disabilities enjoy full access to universal human rights, they can exhibit “genuine physical and mental health.” That’s the perspective of Javier Vasquez, who observes the achievements and challenges of people with intellectual disabilities first hand, in his role as Vicepresident of Health Programs of Special Olympics.

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Special Olympics Hosts U.N. Officials During 2018 MENA Regional Games
Special Olympics

March 14, 2018

In summary, Special Olympics Senior Director of Health Systems Javier Vasquez said, “Sports, health, inclusive education, employment and other related human rights of people with intellectual disabilities, in the MENA region called ‘people of determination’, are protected under the UN convention, and Special Olympics is lighting a pathway for nations to become more inclusive and accepting. This could be one of the legacies of Regional and 2019 World Games in the MENA Region.”

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Interview at PAHO/WHO TV on Health and Human Rights Law

September 30, 2010

Javier Vasquez, Health and Human Rights

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Area of Expertise


American University Washington College of Law

World Health Organization

Special Olympics


American University, Washington College of Law : International Law and Human Rights Law

Santa Maria La Antigua University, Law School : Law and Political Science

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