It’s not enough to refrain from harm. We must take positive action.

This is the core message of The Cost of Inaction: Case Studies from Rwanda and Angola, a new book published by the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights that introduces a method to determine the true costs of failing to help the world’s poorest children.

“This is a far-reaching book with a deceptively modest title,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen writes in the foreword. “Doing nothing seems far from innocent — indeed depending on our understanding of human obligation to others, it can be full of potential folly, and perhaps even the basis of a sense of actual guilt …”

Sen was one of two Nobel Prize laureates to speak at an October 23, 2012, program at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge celebrating the book’s publication. Along with Sen, who is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor at Harvard, the program’s speakers included Harvard’s Eric S. Maskin, Adams University Professor and a 2007 Nobel laureate; the book’s lead author, Sudhir Anand, professor of economics at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford University; and Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, the founder of FXB International, an organization that focuses on AIDS orphans and vulnerable children. Her FXB Foundation also established Harvard School of Public Health’s FXB Center.

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