The Clave is the collective name for the political body made up of all active Shadowhunters. The Clave keeps and interprets the Law, and makes decisions about the guidance of the Nephilim through history as it unfolds and decides on important matters that affect the Nephilim, which also sometimes affect the Downworlders.
Since 2012, the Clave has split into two factions: one ruled by the Cohort and confined within the lands of Idris, and the other referred to as the Clave-in-Exile due to being "exiled" from their homeland by the Cohort, who refused to live under Alec Lightwood's rule.
All Shadowhunters who recognize the authority of their leaders and of the majority of their kind as a whole make up the Clave. When Shadowhunters reach adulthood at the age of eighteen, they declare their allegiance to the Clave and become full-fledged Clave members, with rights to contribute to any Clave issue under discussion. They continue to be members unless they choose to renounce their membership for some reason, or are dismissed.
While Clave members hold a sway in decisions made regarding important matters relevant to their race, final decisions are made by the Council. The Consul and the Inquisitor are also important figures in the organization. They meet in the Gard at Alicante, Idris. Although Shadowhunters are all welcome to the meeting, some Shadowhunters choose not to attend.
The Clave then appoints which members to place in their regional branches in different countries and large cities. Called Enclaves in most of the world, and Conclaves in the Americas and Australia, they are left in charge of the local Institutes. In some parts of the world, the head of the local Enclave is always the head of the largest local Institute; in some places they are different persons.
While these regional groups coordinate their own local decision making and organizational structures as they see fit, the Clave as a whole is still responsible for them and may still intercede in cases where an Enclave or Conclave is organized in some way that is against the spirit of the Nephilim as a whole. A member of each Institute is also chosen to represent them on the Council.
- Jace: "The world is bigger than Idris. You think you are taking our homeland, but you are making it your prison. Just as we can never return, you will never be able to leave."
- Alec: "Outside the wards of Idris we will fight on to protect the world. In here, you will rot as you play at being soldiers with nothing to fight but each other."
- ―Jace and Alec talking about the Cohort's decision, Queen of Air and Darkness
In 2012, following a battle fought between two warring sides of the Unseelie Court—one under Oban and the other under Kieran—and of Shadowhunters—with the Cohort challenged by Livia's Watch. Following the battle and the victory of Livia's Watch and Kieran's rise to kingship, Jia Penhallow stepped down as Consul, with her last act being making the vote for her successor an open election, meaning everyone, even minors and the incarcerated Cohort members, would have the right to vote.
|“||We refuse to recognize Alec Lightwood as Consul! We stand for our old traditions, for the way things always have been and always should be!||”|
Alec Lightwood won the vote of the majority; despite this, the Cohort objected and questioned its validity, saying the voters were simply intimidated. When the Cohort threatened to kill themselves if they did not leave Alicante and one proceeded to kill herself to prove that they were serious, Alec, as his first act as Consul, proclaimed that the Clave would continue with its duties outside of Idris, and everyone who did not wish to be ruled by the Cohort left Idris with them.
|“||We are acting to save Alicante from corruption and the glass towers from ruin. You spoke before of the value of the lands outside Alicante as if Alicante were not the heart of our people. Very well then, go out and embrace the mundane world, away from the Angel's light.||”|
The Cohort and their believers, though possibly not all of them, remained in Idris; they fortified the city, locked the wards, making it stronger and thicker than ever, making communication through fire-message difficult, supposedly removed the Portal in the Gard, and bricked up the entrances to the Silent City, putting huge importance in keeping hold of the Mortal Mirror.
The government of the Clave-in-Exile was established in New York City, primarily because the family of Consul Alec resided in the city. The Cold Peace was abolished, an alliance was forged with the Unseelie Court now under Kieran's rule. Alec prepared to coordinate with their allied societies, governments and religious institutions, and plans were made to build a Shadowhunter Academy and a Basilias outside of Idris.
The term "Clave" comes from the Latin clavis, meaning "key," and its use in such terms as "Enclave" and "Conclave" refers abstractly to the idea of an assembly "under lock and key"—that is, meeting in secret. The Clave is, so to speak, the great secret of the Nephilim; with the key of the Mortal Cup, one earns entrance to its chambers.
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- "... but they don't realize exactly what kind of support the Cohort does have. ... At this point, the Shadowhunters don't know what exactly the Cohort is capable of, and neither do we." Cassandra Clare on Tumblr
- A Love That Never Tires, a Queen of Air and Darkness extra
- The Shadowhunter's Codex