The UN Security Council on Friday rejected an African demand to suspend the International Criminal Court trial of Kenya's president and vice president for one year.
A resolution proposed by African states calling for the deferral was the biggest challenge yet to the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto who are accused of fomenting political unrest.
But the resolution got only seven votes, two below the number needed to pass in the 15-member body.
Eight council nations, all ICC members or supporters including Britain, France and the United States, abstained to ensure the failure of the resolution.
It was the first time in decades that a Security Council resolution has failed in such a way without a veto by one of the permanent members.
The African nations, led by Rwanda, who proposed the resolution faced strong criticism for the challenge and the way it was forced upon the council.
Guatemala's UN ambassador Gert Rosenthal said the attempt to suspend the trial was an act of "contempt" against countries that had sought to help Africa with peacekeeping troops and efforts to boost justice in the continent.
Kenyatta and Ruto are accused of masterminding unrest after a 2007 presidential election in 2007 in which at least 1,100 people died. Kenyatta and Ruto took office after an election this year.
Ruto's trial has started, while that of Kenyatta is scheduled to get underway February 5 after being delayed three times.