Ban said the year 2015 must be the "time for global action" as he called on the international community to join forces to combat terrorism, prepare for possible new health epidemics and work on transformative global action to ensure sustainable development for all.

"With vision and solidarity, we can make this year a turning point in serving 'we the peoples' and ensuring human dignity for all. 2015 can and must be the time for global action. 2015 is a chance for major advances across the three inter-connected pillars of our work: development, peace and human rights," he said as he briefed the 193-Member United Nations General Assembly on his priorities for 2015.

He said the presence of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and in Iraq has added a volatile dimension to those crises.

Groups responsible for atrocities have capitalised on a legacy of atrocious governance towards disenfranchised populations.

"Terrorism remains a global threat...Our response to brutality and extremism cannot be limited to military action, important as it is. We must engage in wide-ranging efforts, including by addressing the conditions that give rise to such poison in the first place.

"There is also a need for greater attention to the nexus of extremism and organized crime; this year's Crime Congress in April in Qatar can help strengthen criminal justice systems for this work," he added.

"At each of these milestones, we will continue to be ambitious to end poverty, reducing inequality and exploit the opportunities that accompanied the climate challenge," he said.

He made a specific reference to the impact on development of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which was a major setback for the hardest hit countries. Affected nations were beginning to see improvements but people and resources were still needed.

"We must also prepare for any possible new epidemic, wherever it may occur. Strengthening national health systems is a priority. International rapid response capacities must be improved," he said.

Ban also spotlighted the impacts of war in Syria, Ukraine, Central African Republic, northern Mali and elsewhere, pointing out that several other countries were at risk of conflict because of their domestic situations.

He asked States to fulfill their responsibilities under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

"The nuclear powers continue to waste huge sums to upgrade their arsenals rather than eliminate them," he said.

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