This viewpoint article reflects upon the recent surge of formal and institutional ethics requirements, particularly for research with children. Drawing on our experiences of researching with children and communities in economically poor contexts, we critically discuss three interrelated perspectives that help shift the focus of attention about the ethics of research in the global south from the geographical and conceptual margins to the center. First, we explore the interface between ethical research and the wider agenda of achieving social justice for/with children. Second, we highlight the ways in which research takes place within the context of broader social and personal relationships. Third, we highlight the need for researchers' understand, respect and incorporate appropriately local ethos of relationships in order to not only bridge the gap between formal ethical standards/guidelines and informal ethical practices but also promote participatory ethics.