After gaining independence from France in 1977, an authoritarian president ruled Djibouti. Increasing tensions between the regime and the political opposition throughout the 1980s inspired three predominantly Afar groups to form an armed group, the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD), in 1991. In November 1991, FRUD launched an insurgency in northern Djibouti and soon controlled several cities.1 The conflict quickly escalated, with fighting spreading across the country and government forces committing atrocities against civilians.2 At the end of November, the Government of France (which maintained a military presence in Djibouti) dispatched military observers to the north of the country to monitor events.3 This marked the beginning of a lengthy French effort to end the conflict.
In February 1992, the French government dispatched a diplomatic mission to facilitate dialogue between the belligerents.4 Within weeks, a ceasefire was negotiated, and French peacekeepers were deployed to verify compliance. Further talks led to the promulgation of a multiparty constitution in 1992. However, the incumbent administration refused to allow FRUD to run in elections, derailing the peace process and sparking a resumption of fighting in November 1992, leading to the withdrawal of French forces.5 Fighting continued throughout 1993, with a large government offensive capturing much FRUD-held territory and driving 100,000 people from their homes. A split in FRUD in 1994 led to renewed efforts to resolve the conflict, with one faction entering into negotiations (again mediated by French diplomats) with the Government of Djibouti. The talks bore fruit in June 1994, with an agreement to cease hostilities and allow FRUD to participate in politics.6 In December 1994, the Accord of Peace and National Reconciliation was signed, formalising the end of the conflict, revising the constitution, and incorporating FRUD representatives into a power-sharing government.7 FRUC-C, the remaining faction of the group, elected to continue fighting until entering negotiations in 1999. These talks produced two more peace agreements in 2000-2001, which not only ended the fighting but also stipulated a comprehensive package of reforms focusing on constitutional reform, the electoral process, and decentralisation.8