Members of the UN Security Council have unanimously approved a binding resolution on checking the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.

The US-drafted resolution adopted on Wednesday requires all countries to adopt laws that would make it a serious crime for their nationals to join self-declared jihadist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and  the Nusra Front.

Al Jazeera's James Bays reports from the UN headquarters in New York

The resolution is under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which makes it legally binding for the 193 UN member states and gives the Security Council authority to enforce decisions with economic sanctions or force.

It generally targets fighters travelling to conflicts anywhere in the world. It does not mandate military force to tackle the foreign fighter issue.

US President Barack Obama described the resolution as "historic" at the special session of the Council, only the sixth time in UN history that the body was convening at the level of heads of state.

Obama opened the session by voicing solidarity with France after one of its citizens was kidnapped and beheaded by fighters in Algeria linked to ISIL.

"We stand with you and the French people as you grieve this terrible loss and as you stand up against terror in defence of liberty," Obama said, turning his gaze towards French President Francois Hollande.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told the UN General Assembly that London should join the US-led air strikes against ISIL in Iraq, adding that his country's parliament has been recalled to secure approval.

Meanwhile, France sharply criticised the EU, saying its passivity in Syria's three-year-old civil war had helped encourage chaos and allowed the conflict to radicalise.

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"Like many others France has called for action for three years now," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a high-level meeting with members of the Syrian opposition on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, according to the Reuters news agency.

About 12,000 fighters from more than 70 nations have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside self-declared jihadist groups, according to experts.

Obama is building a global coalition to combat ISIL, which has captured swaths of Syria and Iraq and urged followers to attack citizens of various countries.

The US has led air strikes against the group in Iraq and Syria.

Obama told the UN General Assembly earlier on Wednesday that the Security Council resolution would underscore the responsibility of states to counter violent "extremism".

Source: Agencies