The Role of the Prosecutor in the 21st Century: A Conversation with François Molins and Cyrus Vance

François Molins, General Prosecutor for Paris’ Court of Cassation, and Cyrus Vance, New York County District Attorney, came together during their lecture at Science Po’s Law School to highlight an observation gleaned from years of experience in the field: the role of a prosecutor in the 21st century is vastly different from how it was forty years ago. The two prosecutors, caught up as they are in the whirlwind of technological advances in the post 9/11 era, emphasised the impact of cybercrime—as well as that of terrorism—on their career paths and the way in which they approach their profession.

International Cooperation Against Crim“It seems to me that the rise in cybercrime, organised crime, and jihadist terrorism has been a major turning point in international cooperation. The emergence of these phenomena has made close cooperation fundamental—it is either the key to the success of our investigations or the reason for their failure,” François Molins stated during his talk. Cyrus Vance was in full agreement; for him, cooperation on a global scale has become essential in fighting cybercrime, a phenomenon that he likened to “a tsunami that is crashing on our head globally.” In response, Vance created a collaborative initiative, Global Cyber Alliance, that connects Paris and New York to a worldwide network. Their mission is to develop prevention strategies to counter a threat which is, according to François Molins and Cyrus Vance, only growing in scope.

Portrait of a Modern Prosecutor

This threat, however, did not discourage the two prosecutors from enumerating the merits of this constantly-evolving career path for Science Po’s students. François Molins and Cyrus Vance both emphasised the worthwhile nature of their work and, on a larger scale, the role of the prosecutor in the 21st century. According to François Molins, today’s prosecutors must be “open to the world, at the heart of societal debates, and up-to-date on the stakes, the evolutions, and the difficulties of a world that is constantly becoming more complex.” In his opinion, a young prosecutor must embody a sense of “responsibility built upon humility, be highly competent, have a high level of training, and a spotless personal and professional code of ethics.”

Indeed, humility seemed to be a running theme throughout the talk; Cyrus Vance made reference to François Molins discourse in order to emphasise the qualities that he considers essential for both current and future prosecutors. As he noted, “A humble prosecutor is not a weak prosecutor. A humble prosecutor is someone who is taking the time to recognise that he or she doesn’t necessarily know the answer to everything, doesn’t necessarily know what is true.”

The Sciences Po Editorial Team

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