How to deal with suspension

Requesting the suspension

When the UN Agency is facing a situation which may require a suspension of the Action, it should inform ECHO immediately and in writing, even if it is not sure whether the difficulties encountered will, in the end, require a suspension.

If it turns out subsequently that a suspension is needed, the first letter informing ECHO of the difficulties may be considered as the starting date for the suspension. ECHO may not grant a suspension retroactively.

As soon as the need for a suspension is confirmed, the UN Agency shall send to ECHO the following information:

  1. the reasons for the suspension
  2. the expenses that the UN Agency expects to be incurred during the suspension period, e.g. the running costs of a local office. The suspension of the Action does not change the eligibility rules: if, during the suspension period, costs necessary for the Action (in the context of its suspension) must be incurred and if these costs are recorded in the UN Agencies' accounts, then they shall be deemed eligible
  3. the date on which the UN Agency foresees the resumption of the activities

ECHO will confirm the implementation arrangements for the suspension by letter within 15 days. This letter will establish the period of suspension and indicate the eligible costs during the suspension period.

Should the UN Agency needs additional funding to resume and finalise the Action, it will have to discuss with ECHO the availability of funds. When funds cannot be made available, the UN Agency will have to reallocate amounts within the budget and possibly reorganise activities.

If the suspension period is longer than originally foreseen, the UN Agency will inform ECHO in writing. The total duration of the suspension will be confirmed at the time of the resumption of activities. However, if the suspension period be longer than 1/3 of the implementation period, formal agreement of ECHO is required.


During the suspension period, the UN Agency must take all necessary measures to reduce to a minimum the damages (e.g. measures to ensure the security of staff and assets) which may result from the suspension. At a later stage, the UN Agency will report on the actions and measures taken to reduce to a minimum the damage and on the impact on the final Action objective.

Resumption of the activities

As soon as the circumstances allow, the UN Agency shall resume activities and immediately inform ECHO by letter.
This letter must indicate the date of resumption of the activities and any changes which the UN Agency believes have to be introduced in the Agreement as a result of the suspension (budget changes, modifications on the results / indicators, etc.).

ECHO will assess the conditions for resumption (or termination) of the activities and the impact this resumption might have on the action. Three alternatives are possible:

  1. the resumption has no impact on any basic element of the agreement. DG ECHO will therefore confirm the resumption and the new end date of the action
  2. the resumption has entailed a change of the agreement's articles or of the basic elements of the Action (e.g. results, indicators). DG ECHO will have to agree to these changes and will confirm the new end date of the action
  3. the suspension period was longer than 1/3 of the implementation period; DG ECHO will therefore have to decide whether to resume or terminate the Action

Duration and effects of suspension

When the above circumstances no longer apply, the suspension is ended and the UN Agency will resume the implementation of the Action.

As a general rule, suspensions should not last longer than one third of the implementation period of an Action, unless ECHO confirms that a longer suspension period is allowed. In some cases, it will be possible for the UN Agency to continue implementing part of an Action (i.e. those activities which have not been hampered by the circumstances listed above) during the suspension period. This has to be defined in the exchange of information between ECHO and the UN Agency.

In any case the costs to be incurred during the suspension period will be subject to discussions between ECHO and the UN Agency.

If the causes for suspension are such that it is not possible to envisage a resumption of the activities or if the causes for suspension last longer than one third of the implementation period, Article 14.3 of the General Conditions states that ECHO may decide to terminate the Agreement with immediate effect by written notice stating the grounds for termination. In this case, the termination will have effect on the day following the day of receipt of the termination letter.

As regard to the length of the suspension period, if the UN Agency wishes to extend the suspension period over the maximum period of one third of the implementation period, the UN Agency shall send to ECHO a justification for the extension. ECHO will reply in writing.
If ECHO agrees to continue the suspension of the implementation period of the Action, no explicit derogation is needed.

References & useful links