The United States Presents its Universal Periodic Review National Report

Office of the Spokesperson

Today, the United States participated in the Human Rights Council’s 36th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group. During the session, the U.S. delegation presented the U.S. national report on our domestic human rights record and responded to questions from UN Members. The UPR was created by the UN General Assembly, and all UN member states participate in the process outlined in UN resolution 60/251.

The 2020 delegation was led by Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro; Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations in Geneva; and Acting Legal Adviser Marik String. The U.S. interagency delegation included representatives from the Departments of Defense, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Homeland Security, as well as the Attorney General for the State of Utah.

The United States’ written report is available online at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/USindex.aspx.

For further information, please email DRL-Press@state.gov or visit https://www.state.gov/universal-periodic-review/.

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The high concentration of valuable material in certain consumer electronics is key to the economic viability of recycling these products. Cell phones, as one example, have more precious metal by weight than raw ore does. According to the EPA, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, and 75 pounds of gold can be recovered from a million recycled cell phones. Based on commodity market prices on August 12, 2020, these weights of metals are worth approximately $100,000, $290,000, and $2.1 million for copper, silver, and gold, respectively. In contrast, cathode ray tube (CRT) displays in older televisions and computer monitors have little recycling value, but they contain leaded glass and may be considered hazardous waste. In addition, recovery of certain valuable materials from consumer electronics is limited due to the high costs of technology and processing. Electronics recycling companies disassemble devices by shredding, which also destroys PII, or by hand. 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Other advanced techniques, such as magnetic or electrochemical separation, are showing promise in the laboratory with existing technology. For example, in one study, researchers used ultrasound to dissolve nickel and gold within a SIM card. They then used a magnetic field to separate the dissolved nickel, which is magnetic, from the gold, which is not. Similarly, other techniques use electric fields to separate dissolved metals based on their weight and electric charge. How mature is it? Recycling technology is well established for some traditional single-stream processes, such as aluminum recycling. However, electronic devices are more complex and require disassembly and separation. At least one consumer electronics manufacturer is piloting robotic disassembly for its products. Emerging separation technologies such as ultrasound have come to market in the past decade and are being used. Manual disassembly and shredding are decades old. 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