Presiding judge Richard Lussick said that Charles Taylor's sentence of 50 years was supposed to reflect his position of authority.
The prosecution had recommended a sentence of 80 years, but the judge ruled this would be excessive as Taylor had not directly committed the crimes himself.
Judge Lussick said: "Leadership must be carried out by example by the prosecution of crimes not the commission of crimes.
"The sentence is intended to "underscore the gravity it attached to the betrayal of public trust."
Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for his role in Sierra Leone's brutal civil war.
The presiding judge Richard Lussick said: "The lives of many more innocent civilians in Sierra Leone were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions."
Last month, Taylor was convicted of 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity which included murder, rape, sexual slavery and recruiting child soldiers.
Although the court could not prove that Taylor directly ordered these crimes, is found that he provided"sustained and significant" support to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels which committed many of the atrocities against civilians.
In particular, Taylor was found to have channeled weapons and ammunition to the rebels in exchange for "blood diamonds" mined using slave labor.
Presiding Judge Richard Lussick says the crimes Charles Taylor was convicted of were of the "utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality". He said Taylor planned "some of the most heinous crimes recorded in human history"
The former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor has been sentenced to 50 years in prison by an international court in The Hague.
Brenda Hollis, the lead prosecutor in the Charles Taylor trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, has recommended a prison sentence of at least 80 years. At an interim hearing she said of the 64-year-old war criminal:
Considering the extreme magnitude and seriousness of the crimes that were committed against the people of Sierra Leone for which Taylor has been found responsible … the prosecution recommends that Charles Taylor be sentenced to a prison term of no less than 80 years. No significant mitigating circumstances exist in this case.
The former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor is likely to receive a prison sentence, according to Human Rights Watch.
The statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone provides that sentences should be 'imprisonment for a specified number of years'. Sentences may also include forfeiture of any 'property, proceeds and any assets acquired unlawfully or by criminal conduct'.
The former Liberian president and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor is to be sentenced today.
In April, an international court found Taylor guilty of "aiding and abetting" crimes against humanity including murder, rape and conscription of child soldiers.
If he receives a prison sentence he will serve it in the UK under an agreement made with the Netherlands, where the trial was held.
The former Liberian president Charles Taylor was today found guilty of 'aiding and abetting' war crimes during Sierra Leone's civil warRead the full story ›
And in a statement released by the Foreign Office, Mr Hague added: "This landmark verdict demonstrates that those who have committed the most serious of crimes can and will be held to account for their actions.
"It demonstrates that the reach of international law is long and not time limited and it demonstrates that heads of state cannot hide behind immunity.
"The verdict can only be a small comfort for the victims and relatives of those killed. But the Court's authoritative view of what occurred will play an important role in helping the people of Sierra Leone come to terms with the past and consolidate national reconciliation."