Next week in New York is the fourth and final week of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference: the five-yearly circus of meetings comes to its conclusion with absolutely no progress in sight on the key issue of weapon disarmament.

And yet, and yet, the probability is looking greater than ever that negotiations will start on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Look for news coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on the 6th and 9th of August in Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.

How can this paradox be where no progress comes out of New York, yet only a few months later negotiations for a ban treaty could start? Well, it’s because finally the civilised nations of the world have realised that they have been hoodwinked by the 5 permanent members of the Security Council and that they have no intention whatsoever of disarming: Ever.

Last week in New York saw negotiations on the text of a document from the disarmament committee, and what began life as quite an interesting starting point was rapidly stripped down to nothing of substance.

Nation after nation called for recognition of the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, they called for timescales for disarmament and they called for legal instruments to establish a framework within which it could take place. Time and time again the P5 and their allies in nuclear alliances spoke of their strategic security interests and they pointed to a step-by-step process which has been dead for nearly two decades.

Frankly, the non-nuclear weapon states have had enough of the game and its one-sided rules. Countries such as South Africa could barely hide their contempt for what they were hearing.

In the 2010 outcome document, mention was made of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and three subsequent conferences in Norway, Mexico and Austria showed what this means. The evidence spoke of: the physical devastation of a weapon detonating on a large metropolis such as New York; the nuclear winter and death of up to 2 billion people that could be caused by an exchange of only 100 of the world’s 16000 warheads; the physical impossibility of aid agencies such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent being able to provide any humanitarian assistance to civilians; the illegality of nuclear weapons under Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Conventions; the litany of near catastrophic accidents over the last 7 decades; and the significant risk of accidental detonations in the future through cyber warfare.

France summed up the P5’s arrogance by saying that no new information has been made available about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in decades. Maybe it isn’t surprising that this is their position though because France chose to not attend any of the three conferences.

At the end of the Austrian conference, Austria made a pledge. They pledged to work with other nations to fill the legal gap contained within the NPT which was originally due to be filled within 25 years because the treaty that came into force in 1970 was set to expire in 1995, the date by which the original drafters of the treaty thought that disarmament would be complete.

Ninety-one nations, and rising day-by-day, have now expressed support for Austria’s position. The distant rumble of discontent five years ago has rapidly turned into a stampede of support for an initiative to take control out of the hands of the P5 and into the hands of the rest of the world.

A ban treaty does not mean that the P5 will start to disarm, but it would provide them with a framework for disarmament when the time comes and their domestic political situation is such that there is no support for nuclear weapons at home, it would provide legitimacy to the nations of the world who believe, rightly, that nuclear weapons are immoral and hold no place in global security considerations, and it would give strength to divestment campaigns that can bring pressure to bear on financial institutions and suppliers to the nuclear weapons industry.

The P5 might not see any of this coming because they all have their heads in the sand. They believe that if they refuse to play ball with the others then the others will go home, but the others have found a better ball and a better game and the P5 and their allies are finding themselves increasingly lonely.