The 47 members of the United Nations’ top rights body on Monday accepted without a vote a resolution urging the probe presented by Iraq and supported by more than 100 states.
The diplomats reached their decision after spending the day listening to details of horrendous abuses and crimes attributed to the jihadist group calling itself the Islamic State, including massacres, forced conversions, abductions, slavery, sexual violence and the use of children as soldiers and suicide bombers.
“We are facing a terrorist monster,” Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani told the council, decrying acts “equivalent to genocide and crimes against humanity”.
The special session was called at Baghdad’s request, with support from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – among other countries.
“The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale,” deputy UN rights chief Flavia Pansieri told diplomats from the 47 member states as she opened the emergency session.
The IS has grabbed large swaths of Iraq’s Sunni heartland since June 9. It has also occupied parts of Syria and declared a “caliphate” in a region straddling the two countries.
The group has shocked the world with filmed massacres and beheadings, including that of US journalist James Foley.
At least 1420 people were killed in the country last month alone, according to fresh UN numbers issued Monday, while more than 1.8 million people have fled their homes since the beginning of the year.
The UN has accused the group of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, including “ethnic and religious cleansing”, and has warned of the risk of “genocide” in parts of Iraq.
Sudani stressed that “the acts of the IS are a threat not only to Iraq but to the whole region,” warning they posed “an imminent danger for all countries of the world”.
The resolution adopted Monday condemned “in the strongest possible terms systematic violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law resulting from the terrorist acts committed by ISIL (IS) and associated groups”.
The fact-finding mission will count 11 investigators who should make it to Iraq within the next couple of weeks, a spokesman for the UN human rights office said.
Their aim will be to gather evidence against the IS perpetrators for use in possible future prosecution, for instance by the International Criminal Court.