The US has persuaded the UN Security Council to hear a briefing on whether Burma is destabilising the region.
US ambassador John Bolton said Burma was destabilising the region
The hearing - the first of its kind - is expected in the next two weeks. John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, said the step was "significant".
The US has said it would like the UN secretary general to give the briefing but no decision had been made.
The Council's unanimous move comes days after Burma extended the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ms Suu Kyi, 60, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has spent 10 of the last 15 years held in prison or under house arrest by the ruling military junta.
In a separate development, a group of lawmakers from around south-east Asia have called for next week's regional summit in Malaysia to tackle the issue of Burma, which is currently not on the agenda.
The lawmakers were joined by Malaysian cabinet minister Nazri Aziz, who said the treatment of Ms Suu Kyi was reminiscent of the days of Hitler and Stalin.
Mr Bolton wrote to the Security Council on Tuesday to request a briefing on Burma, or Myanmar, citing "the deteriorating situation" there.
He pointed to Burma as a source of regional instability because of its poor record on drug trafficking, widespread human rights abuses and stalled transition to democracy.
An attempt in June to get the Council to discuss the situation failed after it was blocked by Russia, backed by China and Algeria, on the grounds it fell outside its mandate of ensuring international peace and security.
Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme on Friday, Mr Bolton welcomed the Security Council's change of tack.
"We think it [Burma] does amount to a threat to international peace and security," he said.
He said Burma's "internally repressive policies" had contributed to large flows of refugees out of the country.
This, he said, was "very similar to the circumstance after the first Persian Gulf war when the UN Security Council first took internal repression as a threat to international peace and security".