Saudi Arabia has handed over a cheque for $100m to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to help finance the UN's centre to combat global terrorism.

The UN chief welcomed the gift at a ceremony in his office and said the recent upsurge in terrorism in a number of countries and regions - most dramatically, the Islamic State group's takeover of a large swath of Syria and Iraq - "underscores the challenge before us".

Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, who presented the cheque with the Saudi UN ambassador, stressed that "terrorism is a scourge and an evil that affects all of us."

Terrorism knows no religion. It knows no ethnicity. It has no nationality. It has no humanity. It has no compassion. It has no justice.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US

He said it can only be dealt with if all countries and peoples unite to deal with the threat.

"We believe that the United Nations can play a very strong and very effective role in mobilising the efforts of the world to counter this evil," al-Jubeir said.

"Terrorism knows no religion. It knows no ethnicity. It has no nationality. It has no humanity. It has no compassion. It has no justice," he said.

"It is in violation of every religion in the world, and it is a scourge that must be eliminated through very strong and very robust international measures."

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for the establishment of an international centre to combat terrorism almost 10 years ago, and the proposal was adopted by 55 countries at a counter-terrorism conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in 2005.

'Exceptionally generous'

The king pledged $10m to establish the United Nations Counter-terrorism centre, and it was launched in 2011 at UN headquarters in New York.

Al-Jubeir said the $100m donation will better enable the centre to provide the tools, technologies and methods to countries to confront and eliminate the threat of terrorism.

Ban said the UN General Assembly has encouraged its 193 member states to support the centre's work, "and the United States, United Kingdom and Germany have responded to that call".

The UN chief also praised King Abdullah's "exceptionally generous" $500m donation to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to Iraqis caught up in the Islamic State group's offensive, saying it showed Saudi Arabia's "sense of global solidarity".

The donations come months after Saudi Arabia stunned the diplomatic world with the unprecedented announcement that it was rejecting a seat on the UN Security Council, less than 24 hours after it was elected last October 17.

The foreign ministry accused the UN's most powerful body of failing to end the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts and to convene a conference on creating a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

Source: AP