Born in Sudan, the son of a French governor and descendant of an influential African family, Gabriel D’Arboussier had lived in many African countries and countries of the Pacific region that were a part of the French empire. After having studied law in France, he took an active part in the political life of the African continent as a member of various parliaments and as a civil servant and diplomat following the independence of Senegal in 1960.
Elected to the Constituent National Assembly of France in the aftermath of World War II, he contributed to the adoption of numerous laws that aimed to introduce more equality for indigenous populations in the dependant territories of the French empire. Appointed later Vice-President of the French Union, he urged the necessity to extend the powers of local assemblies and supported policies that promoted social and economic development in the territories of the Union.
Gabriel D’Arboussier was Secretary-General of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (African Democratic group) from its inception. He tried to reconcile leanings towards autonomy from the metropolitan government in the dependant territories with a search for an African unity based on federalist principles. In 1958, Gabriel D’Arboussier became, first, Vice-President and, later on, President of the Grand Council of the French Western Africa where he continued to promote African solidarity.
In 1960, he was appointed Minister of Justice of a newly independent Senegal and, two years later, he became Ambassador of Senegal to France. In 1965, Gabriel D’Arboussier was appointed Executive Director of a newly created UNITAR and occupied this position until 1967.