Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all 193 U.N. member states to develop a national plan of action to prevent the spread of terrorism, calling it "a scourge of our times."
Ban said in a report to the U.N. General Assembly circulated Thursday that what is most alarming today is the rapid expansion of violent terrorist ideologies in different parts of the world, which are being fueled by the technological revolution.
He called for actions that are "as agile and far-reaching as the phenomenon itself."
Ban said national plans should focus on preventing conflict and promoting dialogue, investing in education and job creation and countering media messages that drive people to terrorism among other things.
According to the report, terrorists have recruited over 30,000 "foreign fighters" from over 100 countries to travel to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen.
"Some of them will no doubt be horrified by what they see and anxious to put the experience behind them," Ban said, "but others have already returned to their home countries and more will undoubtedly follow to spread hatred, intolerance and violence in their own communities."
Over the past two decades, the secretary-general said, the international community has tried to address terrorism primarily with counter-terrorism measures. But he said a more comprehensive approach is needed.