For the past few decades, there has been intense debate in bioethics about the standard of care that should be provided in clinical trials conducted in developing countries. Some interpret the Declaration of Helsinki to mean that control groups should receive the best intervention available worldwide, while others interpret this and other international guidelines to mean the best local standard of care. Questions of justice are particularly relevant where limited resources mean that the local standard of care is no care at all. Introducing human rights law into this complex and longstanding debate adds a new and important perspective. Through non-derogable rights, including the core obligations of the right to health, human rights law can help set a minimum standard of care.