The agreement came after many years of complex discussions, proposals and compromises. A lot of people have made a great contribution. Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern were the leaders of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland at the time. The presidency was chaired by U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell.  «It is up to the Irish people alone to achieve, in agreement between the two parties and without external hindrance, their right to self-determination, on the basis of the freedom of consent of the North and the South, while accepting that this right be acquired and exercised with the agreement and approval of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland.» Northern Ireland political parties that approved the agreement were also invited to consider the creation of an independent advisory forum, which would represent civil society, with members with expertise on social, cultural, economic and other issues, and would be appointed by both administrations. In 2002, a framework structure was agreed for the North-South Advisory Forum, and in 2006 the Northern Ireland Executive agreed to support its implementation. The agreement sets out a framework for the creation and number of institutions in three «parts.» The agreement reaffirmed its commitment to «mutual respect, civil rights and religious freedoms for all within the Community.» The multi-party agreement recognized «the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance with regard to linguistic diversity,» particularly with regard to the Irish language, Ulster Scots and the languages of other ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland, «all of which are part of the cultural richness of the Island of Ireland.» The agreement called for the creation of an independent commission to review police rules in Northern Ireland, «including ways to promote broad community support» for these agreements. The UK government has also pledged to carry out a «large-scale review» of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. The agreement was reached between the British and Irish governments as well as eight northern Ireland political parties or groups.
Three were representative of unionism: the Ulster Unionist Party, which had led unionism in Ulster since the early 20th century, and two small parties linked to loyalist paramilitaries, the Progressive Unionist Party (linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Democratic Party (the political wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Two of them have been widely described as nationalists: the Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the Republican party affiliated with the Provisional Republican Army.   Apart from these rival traditions, there were two other assemblies, the Inter-Community Alliance Party and the Northern Ireland Women`s Coalition.