A special court for former Liberian President Charles Taylor affirmed his 50-year sentence imposed for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone's civil war. Taylor was sentenced in May 2012 for his role in a civil war that left at least 50,000 people dead before it ended in 2001.
Kerry issued a statement Thursday from the sidelines of the 68th session of the U.N. General Assembly describing the court's decision as a milestone for international justice.
"In holding Charles Taylor accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, [the court] has brought a measure of justice to the people of Sierra Leone and helped to cement the foundation on which reconciliation can proceed," he said in a statement.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed Kerry's comments by saying the verdict sends a strong message that elite figures holding positions of power are not immune from justice.
"The conviction is also a victory in the fight against impunity for sexual violence, as the judges emphasized Taylor's responsibility for horrific crimes of rape and sexual enslavement used to terrorize the people of Sierra Leone," he said in a statement.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]