The UN Security Council has approved a UK-led resolution calling on all countries not to pay ransoms to kidnappers who use the money to finance terrorist groups.
British ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant says hostage-taking has become the major source of financing for terrorist organisations and that in the last three and a half years, al Qaida-affiliated groups and other terrorist cells have collected at least £63 million in ransom payments.
He says the resolution sends a firm message that the international community stands united to ensure that hostage-taking is "no longer perceived as a lucrative" activity for terrorists.
The Britain-circulated resolution, agreed by the 15-member Security Council, is binding for the 193 UN member states but it includes no penalties for non-compliance.
A UN resolution adopted weeks after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States already banned countries from financing terrorism, but Sir Mark said the new resolution highlighted "the increasing threat" from kidnapping for ransom to benefit terrorists.
"We want to make it much more difficult for terrorists to benefit from this sort of financing," he said.
The British resolution followed a communique issued by leaders of the G8 major industrial powers at a summit in Northern Ireland last June.
The communique expressed concern at "the increasingly fragmented and geographically diverse threat posed by terrorist groups including al Qaida and its affiliates" and "the threat posed by kidnapping for ransom by terrorists".