In the face of a U.N. Security Council deadlocked on Syria, the United States and its allies could seek other means of legitimizing any retaliatory strike they launch against Syria's government for last week's alleged gas attack on civilians.
How deep is the divide separating Russia and the United States on Syria? Washington and Moscow have been trying since May to organize an international peace conference to bring an end to the violence. But hopes that such a conference will take place anytime soon - if at all - are fading quickly.
After a year of intensive diplomatic efforts by the world body, U.N.-Arab League peace mediator Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria has made no more progress than his predecessor, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in getting the government and rebels to come to the negotiating table, or getting Russia and the United States to overcome their deep disagreements on Syria.
Rwanda has warned it will not tolerate attempts to blame it for a rebel insurgency in eastern Congo but vowed to use its two-year U.N. Security Council stint to help put an end to the conflict that has destabilized its much larger neighbor.
Over the past six years U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has undergone a metamorphosis from a soft-spoken diplomat cautiously juggling conflicting demands from big powers into an outspoken defender of human rights in Syria, Iran and elsewhere.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to get what they hoped for at the annual U.N. General Assembly after closing ranks to send a message to Iran that it may face war over its nuclear program.
As Syria spirals deeper into a full-scale civil war, Western delegations at the United Nations are increasingly skeptical about the value of appointing a replacement for Kofi Annan as the U.N.-Arab League mediator in the conflict, U.N. envoys say.