South Africa believes the situation in Myanmar as a "human rights issue" and not a threat to international peace.
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said this on Thursday when explaining why South Africa had joined Russia and China in the Security Council to vote against a draft resolution on the situation in the Asian country.
The resolution called on Myanmar to release political prisoners and for an improvement in human rights.
Pahad said the matter should have been dealt with by the UN Human Rights Council.
"The most fundamental reason South Africa opposed the resolution was that it does not fit with the charter mandate conferred upon the Security Council, which is to deal with matters that are a threat to international peace and security," he said.
"We sought to bring forward a principled position about this matter. We did not however want to be ambiguous in our position that the UNSC should not be seized with matters that do not threaten international peace and security and that are better handled by other UN bodies.
"We wanted to assert this principle and position hence we chose to vote against the resolution," he said.