The Council is the governing body of the Clave. They write the laws, known as the Covenant, to which Shadowhunters and Downworlders must abide. The Council also signs the Accords and dictates decisions for official agreements between Shadowhunters and Downworlders.
Local Enclaves/Conclaves choose representatives to sit on the Council, which deals with matters of immediate import that are not large enough for the entire Clave to become involved. Enclaves may decide for themselves how to appoint their Council representatives. Most times, this is accomplished with a simple vote or by the Conclave head appointing a chosen delegate; sometimes, the Conclave head sits on the Council him/herself.
Once, there were few enough Shadowhunters in the world that in matters of importance the entire Clave could be canvassed for their opinion, but it has been many hundreds of years since this has been the case. The Council retains the power to recall any Shadowhunter to Idris at any time. The Council is also responsible for appointing the Consul, among other positions.
Originally, this Council held only Shadowhunters. But, since both Shadowhunters and Downworlders have realized the extent that their problems affect each other, especially just before the Mortal War, the New Council was formed, now including seats in the council for representatives from all four Downworlder races—vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks. After the events of the Dark War, however, the Fair Folk have lost their seat on the Council, though Kaelie Whitewillow represented the Seelie Court during their pleas for leniency to the Clave.
Council members can be distinguished by either their Council robes, a black robe figured with silver runes, or the sigil they wore that bore the symbol of the Clave.
All Council meetings are held at the Council Hall in the Gard at Idris. Before the creation of the Portal, there used to be other entrances throughout the world, some of which were found in Westminster Abbey, reached through a secret passageway in the Pyx Chamber, the Sagrada Família, and Saint Basil the Blessed, but these entrances were sealed upon the invention of the Portal.
The chamber itself is big enough to accommodate all Clave members.
Since many Institutes actually integrate architecture of well-known buildings in Alicante, some, such as the New York Institute's, even have gates that replicate and look just like the wooden doors of the Council Hall.
Meetings called by the Council are bigger than local Enclave, or Conclave, meetings. They are called most often when grave subjects or concerns arise that would affect the whole Clave.
Depending on the gravity of issues to discuss, attendees of Council meetings may vary. Some may only be attended by select members of the Clave; some by anyone over eighteen; and others, mostly emergencies, are required to be attended by all Clave members. Some meetings even have titles, such as the Great Council or war councils, depending on the purpose.
- The meeting was called to discuss their next course of action regarding Axel Mortmain and his threatening actions against the Nephilim, particularly his infiltration of the London Institute. Because Benedict Lightwood challenged Charlotte Branwell for her position, they reconvened two weeks after.
- Consul Josiah Wayland called an emergency meeting in response to Charlotte's call to arms and request for aid she sent out to the whole Clave to infiltrate Mortmain's base in Cadair Idris. At the meeting, Wayland proclaimed his distrust for her and proposed her replacement, but was met with opposition. This meeting was later crashed by automatons, resulting in a slaughter.
- The Ascension of Sophie Collins was held at the Council room and attended by some members.
- During the Mortal War, several meetings were held. Upon the destruction of the Gard, the Accords Hall became the temporary Council chamber.
- Several other meetings were held from November to December regarding the growing threat of Sebastian Morgenstern; particularly after his resurrection and the disappearance of Jace Herondale, Clary Fairchild and those intimately familiar with the problem were interrogated with the Mortal Sword. More meetings were held before and after the Dark War.
- Aloysius Starkweather † - delegate from the York Enclave
- Benedict Lightwood †
- Charlotte Branwell - Consul
- Gideon Lightwood - took the seat of his late father
- Henry Branwell - delegate from the London Enclave
- Josiah Wayland † - Consul
- Roderick and Amalia Morgenstern
- Sora Kaidou - delegate from the Tokyo Enclave
- Alec, Maryse, and Robert Lightwood - delegates from the New York Conclave
- Amatis Herondale †
- Diana Wrayburn
- Jia Penhallow - Consul
- Josiane Pontmercy - delegate from the Marseilles Enclave
- Kadir Safar
- Lazlo Balogh - delegate from the Budapest Enclave
- Lily Chen - representative of the vampires
- Maia Roberts - representative of the werewolves
- Magnus Bane - representative of the warlocks
- Nasreen Chaudhury - delegate from the Mumbai Enclave
- Patrick Penhallow
- Senhor and Senhora Monteverde - delegates from the Lisbon Enclave
- Tomas Rosales † - delegate from the Mexico City Enclave
- Anselm Nightshade - representative of the vampires (former)
- Catarina Loss - representative of the warlocks (former)
- Helen Blackthorn - delegate from the Los Angeles Conclave (former)
- Luke Garroway - representative of the werewolves (former)
- Meliorn † - representative of the faeries (before they were taken off the Council)
- Raphael Santiago † - representative of the vampires (temporary)