The Security Council (search) called on 78 countries to urgently submit reports on their efforts to combat terrorism to the U.N. committee monitoring what governments are doing to stop terrorists from getting money, support and sanctuary.

A presidential statement, adopted Tuesday by consensus by the council, endorsed the counter-terrorism committee's plans to step-up its activities, including sending teams to visit countries which need assistance in their efforts to combat terrorism.

It noted that 78 of the 191 U.N. member states hadn't submitted updated reports to the committee on time, and called on them "urgently to do so."

The council also encouraged "the largest possible number of states to become parties to the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism."

U.S. legal counsel Nicholas Rostow (search) told an open council meeting that despite repeated calls by the Security Council and the General Assembly for all countries to ratify and become parties to the 12 international instruments to fight terrorism, only 57 nations had done so.

"We can and must do better," he said, noting that 47 states were parties to fewer than six of the conventions and protocols.

Rostow stressed that strong statements from countries condemning terrorism were meaningful only if they were followed up with action to win the war on terrorism.

In response to the Sept. 11, 2001 (search) terrorist attacks on the United States, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that governments adopt legislation and take administrative measures to halt support and financing for terrorists.

This year, the council established an executive body in the counter-terrorism committee to beef up U.N. efforts to get all countries to comply with the resolution.

Javier Ruperez, the executive director of the new Executive Directorate, told the council that he expects the body to be fully operational "no later than the first days of the new year."

He said the Executive Directorate will intensify contacts with member states "to identify their needs and try to obtain for them the assistance they require" so that they are "armed with the legal and administrative tools to confront the threat of terrorism."

Several of the 40 speakers during the open debate called for a more permanent U.N. body to deal with terrorism.

Costa Rica's U.N. Ambassador Bruno Stagno Ugarte reiterated a proposal made last month by the country's president, Abel Pacheco, to establish a United Nations high commissioner against terrorism.

This would create a professional, impartial, standing organ at the core of the United Nations, he said.