In response to increased research being performed in developing countries, many research ethics committees (RECs) have been established, but the quality of their ethics review systems remains unknown. Evaluating the performance of an REC remains a challenging task. Absent an accreditation process, a self-assessment mechanism would provide RECs a way to review their policies and processes against recognized international standards. We describe a self-assessment tool that was developed and reviewed by REC members and researchers from the Middle East. This tool reflects pragmatic aspects of human subjects protection, is based on international standards, is straightforward in its completion, and its items are relevant to the administrative processes that exist in many RECs in the developing world.