The singer, who died in February, will be honoured at the star-studded event in Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday.
The show's executive producer Bruce Gillmer said the Global Icon award was for "an act that made a tremendous impact on the world". He said he was delighted it was going to Houston who had said had possessed "one of the world's greatest voices".
Teen boyband One Direction are up for awards including Biggest Fans and Best New Act.
Andrew Dost from US band Fun, who are also in the running for Best New Act, said he thought the five-piece who came together on The X-Factor would win. He said: "I think we're going to lose, they are going to crush us".
Other British acts nominated at the prestigious showbiz bash include Rita Ora, who is also up for Best New Act, Muse who are nominated for Best Live Act and Best Rock Act, and Arctic Monkeys who are up for Best Alternative Act along with Florence + The Machine.
Coldplay are also up for Best Rock Act.
The nominations for Best Song include Carly Rae Jepson for Call Me Maybe and Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris for We Found Love.