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.
All Shadowhunters who recognize the authority of Idris make up the Clave. 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. When Shadowhunters reach adulthood at the age of eighteen, they declare their allegiance to the Clave and become full 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.
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.
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.
- While still planning the symbol for the Clave, Clary considered a four-leaf clover to symbolize the faeries, and fangs for the vampires.