Ten nations, including the United States, voted in favor of adding Myanmar, formerly Burma, to the council agenda, while China, Russia, Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo voted against it. Tanzania abstained.
The vote cleared the way for the United States to follow through on a promised push for a resolution on human rights, but US ambassador, John Bolton told reporters none was immediately planned.
"It's fundamentally important that the regime in Burma recognise that it's the other member governments of the UN, other nations of the world, that are concerned about their practices.”
The military has run Myanmar since 1962, ignoring a 1990 landslide election victory by the National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in prison or under house arrest for 10 of the past 17 years.
Many of her supporters have been jailed.
Human rights record
Bolton said Myanmar also deserved attention due to its illegal drugs trade, high AIDS rates and human rights record.
But the Chinese UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, said it was "preposterous" to argue any nation threatened international peace and security simply because it faced those problems.
"Everyone thinks that the Security Council is a panacea, that it could do everything, but I think that is not the case.”
One surprise vote was Japan, which sided with the United States after previously arguing that Myanmar was an Asian problem that did not require council intervention.